We are regularly told Britain is in the grip of gun and knife culture and gang warfare, with young people in particular both committing violent crime, and suffering as victims of it. More generally, ‘teenage antisocial behaviour’ is often portrayed as one of the greatest problems afflicting the nation. Young people’s drinking habits are increasingly understood as a social problem today, and the government has announced it will crack down not just on underage drinking, but also 18-24 year-olds’ drunken behaviour.
But, statistically, violent crime is falling, and surely young people have always misbehaved: only rarely has their behaviour been interpreted as a serious threat to society. Do concerns about youth crime and antisocial behaviour reflect a breakdown of respect and discipline, or are we in the grip of a moral panic? Are liberal critics blind to the harsh realities of crime and disorder? Either way, there seems to be a problem with adult authority. Have we lost the confidence to tell young people what’s right and wrong?
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|Professor Adam Crawford
professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds; author of Youth Offending and Restorative Justice
|Professor Stuart Waiton
lecturer in sociology and criminology, Abertay University; author, Snobs' Law: criminalising football fans in an age of intolerance
BBC Home Editor; head, BBC’s UK Specialists Unit.
deputy mayor for Policing & Assembly, London; Assembly Member for West Central Constituency
|Dr Maria Grasso
lecturer in politics and quantitative methods, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield; author: Generations, Political Participation and Social Change in Western Europe
A number of police forces in England and Wales have been undercounting some of the most serious violent crimes, the government has admitted.BBC News, 23 October 2008
Another Friday night, another teenager stabbed to death in a fight outside a nightclub. It was in Croydon, south London, but it could have been Lambeth, Southwark, Edmonton or any of the capital's other locations that have seen young men come to violent ends this year.Andrew Johnson and Brian Brady, The Independent, 14 September 2008
Anti-terrorism laws are being used to catch out youngsters attempting to buy alcohol in the Burton area.Keith Bull, Burton Mail, 1 September 2008
The Government has been accused of being too quick to criminalise youngsters for petty offences that could be dealt with outside the legal system.Press Association, The Press Association, 24 August 2008
The interesting question is why adults feel so cowed and uncertain. It wasn’t the case a generation ago. Anyone over 45 will recognise that they grew up in a world where a sense of adult authority was taken for granted.Jenni Russell, The Sunday Times, 10 August 2008
A quick trawl through The Times archive shows that the modern concern about out-of-control youth is far from a new one.Mick Hume, The Times, 21 July 2008
Many adults are afraid to interact with children for fear of being labelled as paedophiles, a report has claimed.BBC News, 26 June 2008
Antisocial behaviour is becoming a universally accepted problem and one that dominates the political and popular imagination. By providing a new criminological framework for understanding the fear of crime, this book reposes the increasingly important debate around antisocial behaviour and the internationally understood idea of moral panics.
Stuart Waiton, Routledge, 30 November 2007
Nick Barham, Ebury Press, 5 January 2006