Young People Are Receiving Their Usual Bad Press

Young people are so often demonised by the public and the right wing media we have got to the point where we no longer care. We aren't young people, , we are 'youths', the 'dregs' of society.

Yesterday during the House of Commons debate over the recent riots across the UK, Mike Gapes pointed out that David Cameron had been speaking for an hour and a half without saying anything positive about 'youths'.

Inevitably, over the coming days when various members of my generation are wheeled out in front of magistrates courts across the country with their various pathetic excuses for looting flat screen televisions, sports clothes and other paraphernalia that confirms their status as the 'dregs' of society.

And from this the finger of blame will get tired of pointing at the poor and find its target in everyone under the age of 25.

Young people are so often demonised by the public and the right wing media we have got to the point where we no longer care. We aren't young people, 'the future of the country', we are 'youths' and that derogatory expression sums up our marginalised place in society.

I'll admit, some of us are up to no good. The riots this week have proved that in fact but the rioters weren't rioting due to youthful exuberance; they were rioting because they had little to lose and everything to gain.

What wasn't reported so much (except in media circles) was the actions of young journalists such as myself and the student newspaper of the University of Birmingham, Redbrick to live blog the Birmingham riots and actually provide a real time update to the city about what exactly is going on.

And what about the three men killed in Winson Green attempting to protect their community? One of them had yet to reach his 22nd birthday and he was an incredibly brave man attempting to do good for his community.

Young people may have had a more comfortable childhood under the Blair/Brown boom years that most of the older generation but we're certainly paying for it as we reach adulthood.

Most of us still face unemployment and job insecurity even after sticking in school and behaving ourselves like our elders tell us to. We're also going to have to spend our lives paying for and hope that we'll eventually get a job we like given that we probably won't be able to retire any time soon.

Young people are understandably angry. We do not begrudge older generations their retirement, we are not trying to whine about how unfair life is, we understand that twenty teenagers hanging out on a street corner is intimidating.

However we just want to be listened to. We have our dominance of TV scheduling, we have politicians going around schools, we have our debate forums; are we supposed to be listened to or is this just the latest way that we listen to the grownups?

There is a Young Person's Question Time on BBC Three tonight; how many over the age of 30 without children are really going to be watching? Will anyone care?

The fact that its tucked away on BBC Three instead of a prime slot on BBC One for regular Question Time speaks volumes (because contrary to popular belief, no one young and with an adequate number of brain cells habitually watches BBC Three).

'Youths' are not a faceless mass of 'other'. We are the same as every other generation that came before us. Instead of assuming that we are either infantile or hooligans may our opinions should be considered more often than every time there's an election and more than by the Liberal Democrats.

Some of us are thugs, some of us are do-gooders. Some have opinions that matter, some do not. Do not dismiss an entire class of people simply based on what time they showed up this on earth.

If twenty years from now you'll trust us to run your country and choose your care home; why not listen to us now?

Age is just a number.


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