Why is antisocial behavior among teenagers a growing problem in the UK?
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London is considered one of the great cities on earth. Some consider it the capital of the world. It has long been a center of culture, finance and international power for centuries. Its iconic structures and landmarks are recognized around the world.
But a ride on a rail car from downtown London to the city’s outskirts presents a very different picture. The glamour and glitz quickly fade into graffiti-laden alleyways, abandoned warehouses with broken glass, tiny apartments lining the loud and busy railroad, and other urban scenes. While this is true of any big city, the contrast between London’s iconic image as a world epicenter and its daily street life of grime and decay is striking.
London, and the nation it represents, the United Kingdom, has certainly been on the top of the world for a long time. It has been said there was a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. To this day, scores of countries still experience the dramatic impact this empire once made.
Many of Britain’s colonies have since sought or been granted independence. In the truest sense, the British Empire no longer exists. Still, the United Kingdom remains a major player on the world scene. In almost every power broker circle on earth, the British have influence.
But, as with the imaginary train ride from London to its outskirts (described above), political power, financial strength and international influence have been fading fast.
One stark example is tomorrow’s adults, those who will run the nation in years ahead, the young people of the United Kingdom.
Almost daily, news headlines cry out worldwide about Britain’s youth: stabbings upon stabbings…extreme drunkenness in holiday hotspots…senseless beatings of the elderly…gangs “hanging out” and causing trouble…
For over a decade, the United Kingdom’s government has struggled with what is termed “antisocial behavior.” In response, former Prime Minister Tony Blair made it his goal to change what was happening on the streets of the UK.
It is a very real and serious problem. The government instituted programs to decrease the level of anti-social acts, but little progress has been made. Social experts have created terms such as NEETs (teens “Not in Employment, Education or Training”) and ASBOs (“Anti-Social Behavior Orders”). There is talk of pedophobia: adults in fear of young people and children.
What exactly is happening in the United Kingdom? What are teenagers doing that causes these headlines, government programs and social outcry? (While a look at Britain’s youth is similar to those of other Western nations, it is clear that UK youth have risen to the forefront of headlines in past years.)
Teens and young adults are very different today than they were decades, even centuries, ago. Now, subcultures of all sorts abound. Delinquent teenagers make it their goal to cause trouble for others. A gang culture is on the rise, with tattoos, hooded sweatshirts and knives the norm. Authority figures are almost nonexistent. Respect for others is severely lacking. Social skills are dysfunctional, bordering on nonfunctional.
Poverty, in some regards, is where it starts. The International Herald Tribune reported, “Wandering the streets after dusk in this endless housing project, the five teenagers said they were not troubled by the turns their lives had taken so far. Not by the absent fathers, the mothers on welfare, the drugs, the arrests, the incarcerations, the wearying inevitability of it all.”
“The housing projects in Wythenshawe…represent an extreme pocket of social deprivation and alienation. But the problems here—a breakdown in families, an absence of respect for authority, the prevalence of drugs, drunkenness, truancy, vandalism and petty criminality—are common across Britain.”
“Last year  a paper published by the Institute for Public Policy Research, a progressive study group, concluded that Britain’s young people were the worst-behaved in Europe, spending less time with their parents, drinking and fighting more, and trying drugs and sex earlier than their counterparts across the Continent.”
The article continues by explaining that Britain has one of the worst rates of child poverty despite being one of the wealthiest and most prosperous nations on earth. This, of course, leads to many teenagers committing crime, feeling unattached from any productive part of society.
Knife crime is prevalent, a problem the government is trying to clamp down on, including passing legislation that will forbid teens younger than 18 to buy a knife. In 2005, the number of people who were mugged with a knife jumped up 73%. Reports indicate that seven times as many die from a “sharp instrument” as opposed to a firearm (The Independent).
The Independent also reported, “…the director of My Generation, a charity working with young people in west London…reported recently that youngsters as young as nine or 10 talk openly about ‘shanking’ (stabbing) those with whom they have any kind of beef [problem]. He blames bad exemplars such as 50 Cent, Eminem and elements in the ‘grime’ music scene for making the unacceptable acceptable. The Tory leader, David Cameron, responded recently, by calling on Radio 1 to stop playing certain types of hip-hop music on Saturday nights because it was encouraging a knife culture.”
A popular British rock star recently expressed his worries about British youth and the rise of knife crimes. He is concerned about the environment in which his children will grow up, but admits he does not want to say too much, thereby causing offense to criminals who would then attack him. He also pondered the link to violent video games, and how these could be “desensitizing” young minds (www.stuff.co.nz).
Among girls, crimes have increased 25% in only three years. Gangs made up of girls are also on the rise. The amount of crime perpetrated by boys, however, is still far worse.
Studies show that Britain had the highest teen pregnancy rate in Western Europe. The BBC reports that this rate is “twice as high as in Germany, three times as high as in France and six times as high as in the Netherlands.” This, among other statistics, reveals that Britain and its parents are having a hard time teaching young people about correct sexual relations.
A story in 2007 rattled the nation, and the world, when it was learned that as many as 19 teenagers committed suicide in one area of the United Kingdom. There was a buzz on the Internet, and research indicates these teenagers were motivated by each other. Social network websites allowed teenagers to talk about and promote suicide. One teen commented that it is a “cool thing to do in our area.”
Sports violence is also commonplace in England, especially among soccer fans. In fact, the British have a reputation across Europe for their violent and lawless behavior surrounding soccer games. Fights and small riots erupt, with fans throwing glass bottles at other fans. What is termed “football hooliganism” is not new and is not something for which England is solely responsible. Many other European fans partake in such violent and reckless behavior. Nevertheless, fans of England’s national team often make sensational headlines, especially on the international stage.
British teenagers are infamous for binge drinking. The BBC reports, “British teenagers out-drink their European counterparts, despite the UK’s tough restrictions on alcohol consumption.” According to the article, the World Health Organization has discovered that alcohol abuse is responsible for one in eight deaths among young men in the UK.
In a related article, the BBC reported that British teenagers are more likely than other Europeans to have used illegal drugs. There are reports of children as young as eight drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis. In addition, the UK has one of the highest rates of teenage smokers among European nations.
Time magazine also reported on the British reputation: “Oddly, Brown overlooked another fundament of Britishness: alcohol-fueled misbehavior. Booze culture unites Britons from Land’s End in southwestern England to John O’Groats at the northeastern tip of Scotland, and it’s also one of the U.K.’s best-known exports. In sun spots such as Ibiza, Mallorca, the Canary Islands, Spain and Greece, English, Welsh and Scottish holidaymakers raucously intermingle, indistinguishable from each other in their bright leisure wear and brighter sunburns, downing alcoholic concoctions such as Sex on the Beach, sometimes as a prelude to the act itself.”
A report revealed, “But a newly published report into British behavior abroad suggests that more Britons than ever are flying the flag of obnoxiousness in foreign climes. The report reveals a steep increase in arrests of Brits overseas: 33% in Spain and 42% in France over the previous year. ‘Many arrests are due to behavior caused by excessive drinking,’ the report states. ‘We are concerned that drink does play a part in a number of these situations,’ Meg Munn, a minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which published the report, told the BBC” (ibid.).
A case in point is Greece. Many teenagers and young adults travel to beautiful islands in Greece to enjoy a vacation. Cheap alcohol flows without end. Nightclubs pound out rhythmic beats. Thousands of youth go there to party and have sexual relations—often involving rape.
The Sun newspaper reported in August 2008 about a Greek vacation spot: “It was once a peaceful fishing village, then an upmarket family resort—but today it is ruled by drunken young Brits. Shameless pairs have sex in public, hooligans brawl over a wrong look, girls parade in underwear, youngsters down cheap booze until they vomit and drunken teens menace the narrow streets on quad bikes.”
“In just three days we spoke to a drunk 18-year-old who said she had been raped and a 20-year-old lad who boasted he had had sex with five girls. We also witnessed numerous couples having sex on the beach.”
The article goes on to mention how people fornicate in alleyways because it is more convenient than going back to one’s hotel! Men boast of having sex several times, in just a few days. Scantily clad teenagers stumble around, not knowing what is going on. In one year, 46 rapes have been reported by British youth. Many more go unreported. To make matters worse, teens often do not even remember the night and therefore do not know what happened to them.
The article continues, “Taxi driver Stavros, 37, has spent all his working life in Laganas and is horrified at the way the once-welcoming resort has changed. ‘The problem is that the drinks are too cheap and too strong,’ he says. ‘The British are thugs, they deliberately make trouble. The ambulance gets called up to ten times every night.’”
The same taxi car driver concluded, “The young Brit holidaymakers are animals” (ibid.).
The BBC reported further on the British debauchery in Greece: “Dr. Renesis, from the state hospital in Zante, has seen similar pictures for real. It’s part of his job to examine women who claim they’ve been raped. He said: ‘All through the night we work with drunk people and most of them are British. Drink kills people, rapes people and destroys the face of England in Greece. We don’t like rape and we don’t like our tourists to be raped.’ He puts the problem down to binge drinking, saying 90% of the women he sees are British. ‘The girls never remember because they’re too drunk,’ he added. ‘I ask them how many boys were involved and they don’t remember. I ask them if they’ve had sex and they don’t remember. I ask them if they used a condom and they don’t remember.’”
A vivid, disgusting picture! Appalling behavior! Truly, the “face of England” is being destroyed.
Another incident regarding the reputation of the British made news in 2008. This occurred in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is another sad example of Britain’s moral depravity. A police officer caught a British couple in a lewd act on the beach. Onlookers reported what happened. Since such public conduct is illegal in Dubai, the couple was criminally charged for their act.
Dubai, a growing playground for the wealthy, is struggling to keep its morals and social rules intact. While some of its social laws may appear strict to Western thinking, the vast majority of Westerners just a few decades ago would have agreed with them. Now, the British, among other modern nations, having successfully thrown off all restraints in their own countries, are slowly affecting other nations.
These news stories play the role of British ambassadors: The behavior in these events cause people from other nations to draw conclusions, that these reflect each and every individual in Britain.
Some may say that what has been mentioned are just a few stories and statistics. Therefore, let’s look at the broader picture.
In 2007, UNICEF, which published an extensive report on the health and well-being of children, ranked the United Kingdom last among OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, among the world’s wealthiest nations. Here are a few highlights:
Child poverty remains above the 15% mark in the United Kingdom, despite being one of the world’s most prosperous countries.
The Czech Republic ranks ahead of the UK in child health and safety.
In educational well-being, the proportion of young people not looking beyond low-skilled work is more than 30% (in the United States it is less than 15%).
Less than 70% of children in the UK are living with both parents.
In an average of the three components of “behaviors and risks,” the United Kingdom was ranked last of the 21 countries.
In summary, the report indicates that British young people are simply not doing as well as a host of other nations. Many decades ago, Britain was likely on or near the top. But no longer. This state of decreased well-being leads, and forms the foundation, to the behavior that is causing headlines.
Government attempts to lower youth offenses and antisocial behavior have had “no measurable impact,” according to an independent study. Reforms to the youth justice system, according to some, have not had the desired impact.
One British columnist, in response to the aforementioned UNICEF report, stated, “However, frightening as it sometimes gets, and UNICEF reports aside, maybe we should accept British adolescence for what it is, has always been—a whirling out-of-control carousel. You can only watch and hope that your particular (stroppy, nihilistic, establishment hating, maddening, indispensable) Brit teenager manages to cling on for the ride.”
The behavior of youth in the United Kingdom is dramatically changing with each passing decade. There are clear indicators that this will only grow worse. More and more teenagers will not be able to “cling on for the ride.”
The Bible, the Creator’s instruction manual to His creation, talks about today’s worsening condition of the youth in many Western nations, including Britain. The God of the Bible has strong words regarding what He sees occurring on earth today. As always, however, the world does not address why these things are happening. Instead, men institute programs that try to address the end-result, or effects, as opposed to the reasons behind them.
Read carefully from the book of Isaiah: “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel, they are turned away backward. On what part will you yet be stricken, seeing you stray away more and more? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and festering sores: they have not been pressed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oil” (Isa. 1:4-6).
Truly, the whole body IS sick, from head to toe!
There are consequences for such actions. Two chapters later, Isaiah records a picture of both prosperity and punishment: “Moreover the Lord said: Because the daughters of Zion [the modern descendants of the ancient nation of Israel, particularly the United States and the British peoples] are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet; therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.
“In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their anklets…fillets…crescents…pendants…bracelets…armlets…sashes…corselets…amulets…rings…the fine linen…And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet spices there shall be rottenness; and instead of a girdle rags; and instead of curled hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher [a rich or expensive robe] a girding of sackcloth; branding instead of beauty. Your men shall fall by the sword, and your mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and utterly bereft she shall sit upon the ground” (Isa. 3:16-26).
The book of Isaiah paints a dire picture of national humiliation and destruction. There will be effects for the terrible causes that are occurring in society.
However, God offers a way to avoid punishment!
The British Empire is no more. Even the British nation is crumbling. What happened? How did this come to be? How will the troubles and problems of the United Kingdom—and that of the other modern nations of Israel—ultimately be solved? To learn the answers, read David C. Pack’s book America and Britain in Prophecy.
Bible prophecy—history written in advance—reveals the ultimate future of the British peoples, which is stunning—magnificent—and glorious! Learn the history before it happens.