The London Riots
Here in the Hanging Out Project, young volunteers such as myself have been given a chance to voice our opinions about the things involving teenagers today. We also have the option to focus on the positive contribution to society made by young people.
However, recent events of the riots taking place in the many cities across Britain have in fact left a tarnished image of young people. In the Prime Ministers first speech about the riots he described them as ‘Sickening scenes’ of ‘criminality’; as a citizen of this society I personally agree with this statement, because videos being spilled online of groups of people beating up a man and then tricking him into a false sense of security while they rob him, a woman having to jump down from a burning building, or else three men being killed trying to protect their community, are certainly not attributes of a healthy society but a sick one.
After the shock of the riots and the damage caused to many homes and small businesses, the people of Britain were left wondering why things had escalated to such a scale after such a short period of time. Regardless of technicalities such as the police not reacting quickly enough, I question why young people would choose to do such a thing in the first place, what is the root for such an action that stops you from seeing the difference between right and wrong?
As David Cameron mentioned, the overwhelming majority of the population were law abiding citizens, only a few large groups caused chaos around different cities. So, what is the difference between a law abiding citizen and a criminal, why does one choose to do the right thing while the other acts selfishly?
One might argue that it is due to the breakdown in familial values, an example of issues of immigrating families are raised in the project ‘The Ones We Left Behind’ (which can be viewed on the Tuareg Productions website) produced by Lorna Holder the Managing Director of Full Spectrum Productions. For example, many different ethnicities have travelled to Britain since the 60s, bringing up children here and then deciding to go back to their originating countries. Some communities are more affected by this than others, this has left many youth of today’s generation without a family to guide and support them about right and wrong, leaving them in a boundary-less zone to do as they please.
Many of these youth have also suffered feelings of abandonment and frustration, which left pent up has led to such measures. On top of that, living in a run down and uncared for area without a structured educational system to teach them morality and ethics, such youths have nothing to lose when taking up such risks and may in fact be searching for that discipline elsewhere.
However, all of these reasons do not justify the events that have taken place in the past week. We are all accountable as individuals and as a society which has been deteriorating over time. I believe this eruption is in fact a chance for us to wipe the slate clean and talk about salient issues which were not possible before due to political correctness. An important step now was to come out in the open and deal with the issues, this way one can treat teenagers openly and with honesty as they are made aware that a problem exists.
There have also been far too many things in the past to break up traditional family values. For example you have the issue of holidays; family members having different holiday times depending on their work or the institution in which they study does not allow them to be unified during times of relaxation. Some may also feel because of the structure of the government, there is too much involvement from social services in some situations, taking away much of the responsibilities that parents should have to be able to discipline their child, and this needs to slowly be given back. I believe we have acknowledged the first most important step in all this process and that is- acceptance, that things have gone wrong, allowing us to strategically plan our next move as a society, in the hope that events such as last weeks riots won’t happen again.
Mariam, Hanging Out Volunteer,
17 years of age, Preston Manor Sixth Form
Hanging Out at Glastonbury 2011
Traffic jams, road works and a tube delay all washed down with a hot cup of coffee have made it easier for me to re-adjust to the high speed realities of London life upon my recent return from Glastonbury.
I feel unsure as to exactly what I have been doing for the last week and it all seems very vague and surreal now, but a fact that I am convinced of is that at Glastonbury I experienced a festival of extremes; it’s the biggest and the oldest music festival of its kind, it’s been going for 40 years and this year over 130,000 people attended. The weather is at opposites; torrential rain one day and then scorching sun the next. Something slurping over the sides of very stuck in the mud wellies to nomadic shoeless sauntering around grassy stone circles.
The music follows this pattern to: With U2 and Beyoncé you can be wowed by watching the principal pop stars in the world playing to the most immense crowds they have ever performed to or you can see the most provisional of acts like Fisherman’s Friends pitching Sea Shanties to a handful of happy hippies.
Whilst there I danced to traditional Moroccan music from the Master Musicians of Joujouka, jived to Duane Eddy, rocked to Radiohead, sang along to Pulp, skanked to Neville Staple, moshed to Queens of the Stone Age and everything else in-between from legends on huge stages such as BB King on the Pyramid too one man bands playing intimate gigs in tiny rabbit hole venues.
During the day I worked at the stall that I travelled there with, selling eastern goodies such as Singing Bowls, Afghan Slipper Socks and Buddhist Prayer flags and also my own collection of vintage clothing that even included a few pieces that were older than Glastonbury itself!
This being my first festival, I was amazed by the unspoken willingness to give up modern living; we bartered wine for salt, our neighbours sang pagan rituals to tempt the sun to emerge and an underground club required a carrot as payment for entrance. There was a real sense of this dormant primal spirit being unleashed for one week on a distant farm in Somerset.
Glastonbury is an amazing event that everyone should strive to experience as there is nothing like it anywhere in the world. So chilled out, so intense; so glad I went, so pleased to be back!
Hanging Out Project Web/Social Media Volunteer
Maureen Roberts hanging out in the 1960s.
Jean Clarke hanging out in the 1950s.