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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 September 2004, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
What can be done about yob culture?
Vandals
Local authorities are to draft experts to help them fight yob culture.

The so-called Asbo Ambassadors will urge councils and police forces to increase the number of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos) imposed on hooligans.

Around 2,600 Asbos have been issued since their introduction in 1999 and Home Secretary David Blunkett wants to see more.

On Tuesday, Tory leader Michael Howard attacked police bureaucracy which he says is preventing officers doing their job and backed the increased use of Asbos.

Are Asbo Ambassadors likely to help the fight against yob culture? Or is this a short term solution? What can be done about yob culture?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

You need to look at the cause of the problem
Neil Curran, Seoul, South Korea
When will these supposedly intelligent politicians learn that to solve a problem in society you need to look at the cause of the problem? Maybe when the government addresses the great divide between rich and poor in the UK and tries to lift people out of poverty some of these problems would be solved without the need for an "Asbo".
Neil Curran, Seoul, South Korea

If everything is failing we should introduce so-called boot camps like in the USA. That would teach the rascals a good lesson!
JMB, Reading, Berkshire

I went to Spain on holiday and on a Friday night there was a town square full of teenagers causing no trouble - just talking, no shouting, no vandalising, no fighting. I have no idea what they do in Spain but please do it here.
Joe, Manchester, England

How on earth can we expect them to behave in a responsible fashion?
Barbara, Kent
A huge percentage of 'yobs' come from homes where the parent(s) are themselves products of bad parenting and have precious little interest in their offspring, much less what the offspring might be getting up to. If youngsters have no role model and aren't told what is acceptable and what isn't, how on earth can we expect them to behave in a responsible fashion? Nor does it have anything to do with coming from one-parent families. I brought my two children up single handed and not only did they manage to avoid drugs, alcoholic binges and crime, they have grown up to be decent citizens.
Barbara, Kent

It's always a case of blaming the government. Why don't parents take responsibility for the kids they create?
Ian, Machynlleth

If national service is so great, why is anti-social behaviour such a problem around military bases? And those of you who support a drinking age of 21, American universities have massive problems with alcohol abuse by young people in unsupervised environments.
James, Wales

It is essential that discipline is seen as good for the person not as a curtailer of freedom
John, Oxford, England
I hate to say it but both Tony Blair and Michael Howard have touched on this recently. We have become too liberal, there is too much talk about personal 'human' rights above and beyond the rights of the community. There is complete abrogation of responsible for discipline by parents, teachers and even the police. Unfortunately I see the solution to be a curtailment of some of our freedoms. It is essential that discipline is seen as good for the person not as a curtailer of freedom; for punishment to be seen to be enforceable, appropriate and working AND for there to be respect for the community's rights above one's own hedonism and/or laziness.
John, Oxford, England

I find it laughable that people on here are preaching that tolerance is required in this matter. Why should I be willing to tolerate my neighbourhood being coated in graffiti? Why should I tolerate walking down into my town centre on Sunday morning, and seeing shop windows broken, vomit and urine all over the precinct, and street furniture, benches and bins scattered all over the place or damaged? The problem here is the name of the crime. What these yobs are doing is not anti-social. It is criminal, pure and simple! All the ASBO does is add a softly, softly approach to the crime, making serious vandalism offences less serious! We need to toughen up on these louts, not give them another inch so they can take a further mile!
Andy, Leeds, UK

We have already reached the situation where councils take forever to act
Nige, England
It's pretty clear that the government is going to have to do something impressive and soon. We have already reached the situation where councils take forever to act, the police aren't interested and people soon get sick of making insurance claims. I predict vigilante justice will overtake the legal process within 18 months.
Nige, England

"Zero-tolerance", "old fashioned values", "National Service". Am I, as a 20 something, supposed to believe that all these "old fashioned" ideals/methods will work now when they so obviously failed the last time around? New problems for a new society call for new solutions, not the same old tired rubbish we finally realised was about as useful as a chocolate teapot years ago. The collapse of British society has been going on for a century or more, so let's stop arguing about which of the many ideas we've had over the last 100 years we should reimpose and start looking forward.
Mark, UK

I see that there are plenty of comments asking people to try to 'understand' the root causes of the problems of these young tearaways and it sickens me that people have not realised that the easier that you go on punishment the more likely that the problem will increase. Bring back Borstals, proper long term sentences and clear out the system of these 'bleeding hearts'.
J. Burdall, Matlock, England

Once again young people are picked on again and again. If the home secretary wants to pick on someone, how about the parents? They have a major role in the up bringings of the children.
Clive, Dartford, UK

The do gooders have been listened to for far too long in this country
Kathy Anderson, Bradford, West Yorkshire
I live in a once quiet estate. A gang of yobs (and yobesses) have moved into the area and are making our lives hell, I asked the Police if I was allowed to defend myself if one of these children attacked me and he said, "No. You'll be arrested." What on Earth are we supposed to do? Hand them the crowbars so they can smash our cars up more easily? The only answer is to come down, strongly, on them and allow people to defend themselves. The do gooders have been listened to for far too long in this country. A case in point is your photo, you've blanked out the faces, why not show people who they are?
Kathy Anderson, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Being the decade of the ban, why we don't just ban teenagers? Once you hit 13 we'll lock you up somewhere¿ then if you look ok at age 20 and haven't expressed any desire to do up a Ford Escort, throw up in a city centre after 18 pints, fight or rob old people we'll let you out and give you a free subscription to the Daily Mail.
Neil, UK

The main problem with yob culture is that the basic moral fibre of our country had deteriorated. When I was young (and I'm not so old!) we were respective of our elders, anyone in authority and certainly would not answer back and swear at police, teachers, etc. Also when crimes are committed, the punishment needs to be strong enough to deter anyone doing it again. What is the relationship between anti-social behaviour and what these people do for a living? If it's simply down to boredom, get them doing voluntary work - both physical and mental - they would then be too tired to cause trouble.
Susan, Liverpool, UK

The first ten years of a child's life are an extremely impressionable time, and the biggest influence comes from the parents
Nick, Watford, Herts

I'm going to cause a bit of controversy here and suggest that parents have to take a fair chunk of the blame for today's yob culture. The first ten years of a child's life are an extremely impressionable time, and the biggest influence comes from the parents. Not enough parents today are taking responsibility for bringing their children up with good solid morals and ethics. I can hear the barrage of comments already, so I'll make it clear that I believe the majority of parents do a good job, but there are a minority who are simply not. I'm sure it is an extremely difficult thing to bring up a child, but come on, it doesn't stop you from setting a good example, some parents are just as bad as their kids, or they simply just do not care. This is a point that society must face up if we are to restore some order.
Nick, Watford, Herts, UK

It is a massive shame that once again, the minority lets down the majority. A stigma has been burdened on the shoulders of all young people as a consequence of anti-social and violent behaviour from these people. Asbos are a way of tackling crime, but it doesn't mean they are a successful way. In Germany and many other European countries, on-the-spot fines are imposed, and the police are not restricted by an upper bound slap on the wrist law. The yobs should be afraid of the law, not the opposite.
Chris Ward, Guildford, England

Asbos are an attempt to do something positive about crime
Ray G, London, England
At least Asbos are an attempt to do something positive about crime, which is pretty much a first for this government. I hope they work, because if they don't I see a healthy rise in vigilantism coming soon. What other choice do we have?
Ray G, London, England

Community service... many hours of it. The road outside my site could do with a good sweep for a start.
Adam Michael, Cambridge, UK

I don't really care what we do to yobs as long as it is obnoxious/stressful/painful/costly enough to express the public's hatred and deter the next generation of mindless idiots. Asbos don't achieve any of that.
Phillip Holley, UK, Cambs

It's time to bring back the birch and publicly flog these yobs. The Isle of Man had the right idea and rarely had to use it. What about the human rights of the victims?
John Blair, Newcastle-U-Lyme, England

Don't look on every teenager with the same light
Jo, Reading, UK
It seems like the country is launching a war on youth culture. I admit that there are a (very) few problem yobs who do untold amounts of damage and terrorise communities. But please don't look on every teenager with the same light. There are many kids who are being persecuted for just hanging around in groups - just because an increasingly paranoid and aging society thinks they look threatening. How can you expect these people to grow up to know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour when you demonise them for doing nothing more than being a typical teenager? Next time you see a group of "youths", please don't automatically brand them as anti-social yobs - all you do then is create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Jo, Reading, UK

Perhaps rather than cracking down in a draconian way on these yobs, the root cause could be identified, which in my experience is boredom. The kids have nothing to do. There are few people willing to work with youngsters on a voluntary basis and the cycle of disobedience continues. Give the kids a chance and perhaps we may have a chance to reverse these terrible trends.
Mitch, London, UK

The bottom line is that these "yobs" and their parents have nothing to lose. They are of the emerging "have-nots" social class; life's new losers. They have no money to pay fines or any wherewithal to make a decent contribution to society. And, if you have nothing to lose, there is nothing to stop you doing whatever you want; any thought of Asbos having any effect is a joke and the authorities know it! It is a simple formula and a price we "have-alls" will have to pay from now on. On balance, I'd rather replace my yob-damaged 4x4 every year than be a loser forever.
Stephen Fox, Wakefield, UK

We will just breed more bitterness and resentment which will only exasperate the problem
Stephen Smith, Sheffield, UK
I realise I'll probably get shot down in flames for saying this and I also speak as someone (mercifully) who has limited first-hand experience of thuggery. But I refuse to believe that young people in the past were really that much better behaved than now and that imposing National Service, corporal punishment or some other 50s throwback would somehow make everything better. Consigning these people (for that's what they are) to the scrap heap will not do them (or us) any good. We will just breed more bitterness and resentment which will only exasperate the problem. Instead, I think we have to accept that there may not be an easy answer to the problem. We have to look at the causes - why do young people want to behave in this way? Why do they want to cause so much destruction and misery? Only by treating them as real people, as humans (no matter how little they deserve it) can we address this problem. Give them hope, a future and some respect and maybe we can move forward on this. They may not deserve another chance - but perhaps they need it. I can't see that excluding them or cracking down will do anything but make the situation worse.
Stephen Smith, Sheffield, UK

I am sick and tired of hearing the phrase "could not be named for legal reasons". Lets get rid of this ridiculous rubbish and name and shame the thugs, whether they're under the age of 18 or not.
Dave Pallett, Slough, UK

Erect two or three sets of stocks in each locality and put the ring-leaders of the gangs in them for a few hours. They will never misbehave again - neither will their friends or anyone else. Apart from the costs of erecting the stocks in the first place and the admin involved, no other costs would be incurred so it would be extremely cheap and immediately effective.
Bridget Doman, Sheffield, UK

Start giving them some ownership of their own environment
Henri, Hackney, London
If you want people to stop vandalising their own communities, one route is to start giving them some ownership of their own environment: various projects developed with local people's active participation under the "Community Architecture" approached have demonstrated this. The reason some kids vandalise and cause trouble is not necessarily because they're bad - they're bored! I know this from many years of working with marginalised young people and also by thinking back to my own youth and empathising. Don't impose solutions on them, ask them what they want and put in the resources, it makes sense in the long-term.
Henri, Hackney, London

It amazes me how many people talk about sending the yobs into the army. The army isn't a dumping ground for all these wasters, so why do we treat it as such? Surely there must be some other solution like actually giving them punishments that fit the crime, rather than continually letting them off with a slapped wrist.
Pete, London

At the end of the day, the buck ultimately stops with parents. Make them financially responsible for all damage and hardship caused by their children. Maybe then some of them will start considering where their kids are in the early hours, who they are with, and most importantly of all, what they are up to. Under the current system there are simply no consequences for yobbish behaviour by youths, which in turn breeds yob adults.
Dan, Yateley, UK

An enlightened and modern national service could work
David, Manchester, UK
Introduction of national service (no, please read on ...) would help but it would need to be very different from the previous version. It should be compulsory, chronologically variable so as not to conflict with exams etc. and, most importantly, varied. It could include the armed forces but also, forestry and land management/farming, civil defence, civic amenities and others. The key common factors would be communal living (developing skills in 'rubbing along' with others and tolerance), a sense of service to country and discipline which I think could be better termed 'formation'. There's no need for the blind iron discipline and punishments of the previous system but refusal to co-operate would need to be sanctioned. An enlightened and modern national service could work.
David, Manchester, UK

There's a great scheme just launched in Guildford where people found urinating in the street are faced with a choice of arrest & fine or cleaning up the mess with a wash set provided by the police. The humiliation will I'm sure help to clean up this disgusting behaviour. Perhaps similar schemes which involve the public humiliation of the perpetrators while forcing them to undo the damage done should be introduced. Also this is much cheaper than some of the 1950s throwback ideas posted here.
Piers, Guildford

There is now so much evidence (Bad Lads' Army, That'll Teach 'em) that strict discipline and solid rules are effective that it seems strange that this namby-pamby government takes no notice and continues down the softly-softly 'rights' road. And even the kids themselves say they like the no-nonsense approach. So what are we waiting for?
A. Howlett, Manchester, England

They should go back to the 60's and 70's where yobs were sent to detention centres under a hard rigid regime, few who came out returned. And bring back national service, keep the PC brigade out of it, they'll go under some of the toughest, character building systems in the country. As Bad lads on parade recently shown on TV has proved it can work.
George, Chichester, UK

If I hear one more apoplectic person go on about National Service! National Service was a disaster for those of us who did it - curtailment to career plans, education, undergoing legalised brutality, sodomy, ritual humiliation and abuse. It gave rise to a nation of narrow-minded, sexually and emotionally repressed middle Englanders.
Nigel, Redhill, Surrey

Right at the heart of yob culture is the use and abuse of alcohol
Richard, South Coast
Right at the heart of yob culture is the use and abuse of alcohol. Most yobs are not evil, deprived of opportunity or misunderstood. They're just plain drunk. It is almost ridiculously easy for youngsters to get hold of drink and whilst that situation lasts we can expect this type of behaviour to continue and even to escalate. Two simple solutions might help. Make sure that corner shops and off licences face a genuine 'one strike and your out' policy when it comes to selling drink to kids. Then back it up by making sure the police are there enforce this approach. Finally, let's spend some real money on alcohol awareness classes and drive the message home. We should also be completely honest with ourselves, the classes need to be targeted at 10-11 year olds and not a class of sixth formers.
Richard, South Coast

In response to the comment by Richard (South Coast), I do not believe drink really has anything to do with the problem. As a former student I used to spend a huge amount of time in a state of extreme intoxication, yet myself and my friends never felt the need to smash up a phone box or mug old ladies. These people have been brought up to show no respect to anyone and that ultimately is the fault of the parents.
Dave Pallett, Slough, UK

Why don't they send offenders into the army? This seems to shape up young thugs into mature men. If you read the first few chapters of Andy Mc Nabb's Bravo Two Zero you will find that he started off as a reckless, destructive young lad but he went on to serve his country in the SAS!
Bekah Griffiths, Woking, Surrey

It's a simple fact that one law to ban corporal punishment has caused all these problems of today's world. It's probably impossible to fix because rules have been too soft for so long. The streets were a lot safer before the 80s. This problem is so common on our streets. Unfortunately, people like the NSPCC says all forms of corporal punishment is harmful, dangerous and ineffective. It's very clear that they are going to win the argument.
Cat, Birmingham

Harsh punishment does not have to be violent.
Emma, Ipswich, Suffolk
All of your suggestions involve violence of some kind- at best this will make the offenders resentful of your hypocrisy. We can't look to the past for an answer: they has got to be a better way than placing these people who have been brought up surrounded by drugs and violence in military camps. Brain washing will not help: many of the US soldiers involved in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam blamed the military system for they way they behaved. Harsh punishment does not have to be violent.
Emma, Ipswich, Suffolk

There are two reasons that this behaviour occurs, bad or non-existent parenting and peer pressure. I don't believe in boot camps but I do think that parents should be held responsible for the actions of the children who are supposed to be in their care. If families with anti social children continue to have children it would be wise to consider taking these children into care.
Omide Deinali, Newcastle, UK

To tackle yob youths, first tackle yob parents. Aggression, intolerance and a lack of proper guidance in the family are what produce aggressive, intolerant and unruly children. Not music, movies or video games.
Chas, Duxford, UK

Make this so harsh that no-one steps out of line, after the first time and no-one goes back for a second dose
Paul B, Oxford, UK

1. Return proper discipline standards in schools.
2. Enforce it with corporal punishment where necessary.
3. Don't institutionalise youth wrongdoers by sending them to prison, but establish a short term, harsh regime location, utilising military style discipline and enforcement.
4. Make this so harsh that no-one steps out of line, after the first time and no-one goes back for a second dose.
5. Hold parents and guardians fully responsible for the actions of their children.
6. Make parents and children alike, responsible for cleaning up their mess and reinstating the damage they cause.
7. Don't have any special cases, under any circumstances; make the sentences mandatory so magistrates have to impose them.
8. Let all those of us who already have decent values start enjoying our society again.
Paul B, Oxford, UK

We need to be tougher earlier. Whoever thinks an 8- and 9-year-old doesn't know when they are doing something wrong is clearly stupid in the head. The law needs changing so that younger children are made to suffer for the harm and damage they do. Also prison needs to be tougher. Giving them a telly and a Play station is not a punishment!
Jo Hodgson, Swindon, UK

Bring back national service - anyone who watched the recent ITV series bad lads army will see the positive effect this can have.
Lee, Stevenage, England

I live in a neighbourhood where the children hold the power. They throw paint cans at walls and bricks through windows. They graffiti anything and everything that they don't smash first and they are all under sixteen so the law cannot touch them. What we need is a shake up on what anti-social behaviour is, and what we are realistically going to do about it. Asbos are not worth the paper they are written on because a piece of paper will not stop a person throwing a brick through your window. Chain gangs, enforcing discipline, national service, SOMETHING that doesn't wrap the person up in cotton wool and give them more rights than their victims would be wholeheartedly and universally accepted. Doesn't mean it will happen though... The law's too inconsistent to suddenly become balanced overnight.
Annabelle, UK

I have seen Asbos put to use as a way of preventing juvenile offenders from breaking the law
James, Berkshire
I have seen Asbos put to use as a way of preventing juvenile offenders from breaking the law. They are mostly involved in theft and burglary offences and usually act in a group of associates and think they are untouchable by intimidating people. When they breach the ASBO they only then get locked up (not for the burglaries and thefts!!) Yobbish behaviour is usually accompanied by alcohol, mostly at weekends. It works - but perhaps not in the use the government had in mind.
James, Berkshire

I live in a block of flats that is regularly vandalised. There are phonebooks and the contents of peoples bins burnt in the stairwells, spit on the hand rails, and someone has even let their dog make a mess in the lift. There is a man that comes round on a daily basis and cleans all this up, only to have his hard work undone again by the end of the day by yobs. I'd like to see those responsible for the vandalism taught a sense of value for their surroundings. They all live in this block too, and have to use the lift and stairs, but don't seem to care about it. I think if they were made to clean it on a daily basis they might be inclined to take better care of it. If they refuse then they can have their photos plastered all over local TV and papers as the local loser with nothing better to do than destroy his own home and surroundings.
Anon, London

Stop them breeding. I live on a council estate and see bad families breed bad families. They learn how to ¿behave' from one another. Housing Associations and Council Authorities are quick to offer these people places to live, without obtaining character references. Benefits and housing should only be a reward for good behaviour, which I feel is where the main problem lies. They are given something for nothing and there is just no incentive to behave.
Anon, UK

Does anyone remember the Sex Pistols? This is not a new problem, and over policing it will just make agitators behave more like caged animals. Build football fields, set up non-alcohol fuelled activities for young people. This problem existed thirty years ago, so the same stupid solution that didn't work then won't work now either.
Phil, Ottawa, Canada

An Asbo is nothing more than a badge of honour for the scumbags
Nige, UK
An Asbo is nothing more than a badge of honour for the scumbags. Everybody knows that it's nothing more than fine words handed down in place of a real punishment and they have to be broken so many times before the yobs are actually sent to jail they might as well not bother. Contrast that with the draconian treatment of those who take action themselves after being victimised for months at a time and it's small wonder the yobs consider themselves untouchable.
Nige, UK

I found that anti-social behaviour stops the moment you stand up to the young thugs. They can be very intimidating yet it's all mouth. We need a society whereby members can feel that they can stop anti-social behaviour without fear of being taken to court.
Karla, Stirling, Scotland

In the US we lock up more people than anyone else in the world, we hold parents and youth financially responsible for damages and remove youth from the custody of parents who will not provide adequate supervision. We encourage and legalize killing people who break into homes and authorize law abiding people to carry and use firearms for self-defence. Youth public drunkenness often results in severe consequences to the youth and the source of the alcohol. We put people convicted of nuisance crimes in orange jumpsuits on the side of the biggest highways in town picking up trash. The result: sharply declining crime rates. Human rights are for people who act human.
Kurt, Baton Rouge, USA

People confuse understanding of deviant behaviour with its tolerance. Doctors are the experts in the understanding of disease but they are far from accepting that disease is acceptable. It should be the same for hooliganism: understanding it and tolerating it are different things.
Anonymous, London

Bring back corporal punishment in schools
Col Hayton, Manchester
Bring back corporal punishment in schools. When I was a lad the headmaster's cane kept everyone in line - even though it was very rarely used. Now there is no respect for teachers and after leaving school no respect for the police and other members of society.
Col Hayton, Manchester

It's a lottery on how proactive your police are and how they are supported by the local councils. In my town the police have used Asbos, dispersal orders and even closed down a drug dealers flat. I think they are really trying but it's the fabric of society that has to change. It begins at home with attitudes instilled into children. If parents can't get it right what chance have communities? Well done to my local police anyway.
Di Forbes, Kidsgrove, UK

Britain is far less violent than it was when I was a teenager 40 years ago. I remember young men producing machetes from their trousers and arranging to meet for their gang fights in the richer suburbs on the Wirral. Now I frequently sit around in London's street cafes and visit its clubs at two or three in the morning and most fights only use fists and boots. The difference now is the young troublemakers are more mobile and the media report everything. They used to ignore it. Closing the Daily Mail down and locking up its rabble rousing columnists would do more good than reintroducing national service, increasing sentences or the other knee-jerk reactions suggested. I am surprised that no-one suggested flogging in your columns. Most of your correspondents should get out more.
Tinek Mitski, Lodz, Poland

The vast majority of youngsters are decent law abiding young citizens
Andrew Thompson, Dorking, Surrey
I am the head teacher of a 1500 pupil comprehensive school in Surrey. Whilst agreeing with those writing about serious ways of dealing with the yob culture of today, I would remind everyone that the vast majority of youngsters are decent law abiding young citizens. They feel as strongly about anti-social behaviour as many of you do.
Andrew Thompson, Dorking, Surrey

Society has collectively lost the power of empathy, people in general no longer seem to be able to put themselves in the position of others. From these yobs that don't understand how it would feel to be on the receiving end, to speeders who don't imagine they could be the person in the Speed Kills films, to those who call for Capital Punishment, regardless of mistrials, right through to muggers and burglars that just can't see how much their crimes hurt. I only have to see how few people get up for the old on buses to realise that seeing someone else's point of view is not a choice for many, they just find it impossible.
Matt, Amsterdam, Netherlands (ex UK)

Ban "rap" music from the airwaves for a start. If you listen to the words of any of these "songs" they are encouraging violence and yobbery. Why should the BBC, for example, broadcast these encouragements to violence and ant-social behaviour?
Bill, Lanarkshire

Society should be tolerant, but only to the point that the behaviour repeatedly starts repeatedly disturbing others, then it is time to be tough. Unruly families, the subject of Asbos, should be rounded up into one large purpose-built estate away from everyone else. A place where they can be policed efficiently and a place where they will only affect each other.
David R, Plymouth UK

Is it now the time to consider reintroducing a brief period of military call-up?
Derek Betson
Males are born with aggressive instincts. That is why we were put on this earth; to hunt, kill, provide food and protect the family. In a modern peaceful Western culture, these traits are no longer required, but the violent tendencies are still part of a male's genes. How to stop yob culture? ...Give us something disciplined and violent to do; an outlet for our aggressive nature. Is it now the time to consider reintroducing a brief period of military call-up where a worthwhile trade can be learnt, plus self-sufficiency, as well as exposure to discipline, excitement and danger? Louts used to go into the Services, but disciplined men with trades came out.
Derek Betson, CH. ex UK

Bring back the old outlaw system, whereby repeat offenders are stripped of all legal protection, and the victims of their crimes are free to mete out punishment in ANY way they see fit. Satisfying, effective, and a damn sight more just than having the scales of justice tipped in favour of the criminals.
Ray G, London, UK

Asbos are very far from useless. I work as a local journalist and they've done no end of good in my area. As for yob culture - there is no fear. They know they can get away with anything because if a Policeman or teacher or whoever comes near them they'll scream RAPE! RACISM! or ASSAULT! and everyone buys it. Why are these oiks' word being believed over the guardians of our society? I'm afraid it seems we need to go back to a time when Police could give a - shall we say - physical reprimand. These morons need to feel the fear that they put into decent people. They need to be scared, actually frightened, of what will happen to them if they behave in the way they do. More power to the Police.
Pete, UK

Yob culture is unbeatable without a radical change in society
Ossi, Bristol, UK
Yob culture is unbeatable without a radical change in society. They are not some breed of aliens, they are our sons and daughters who have been brought up in a greedy, self centred society. Our kids are bombarded with media advertising for things you "must" have, yet many have no visible prospects for decent employment. Of course kids will feel they have no role in our society... Let's refocus. Let's care more about people than money and maybe our kids will follow suite.
Ossi, Bristol, UK

Last year, a local drunken yob kicked a man senseless - the victim needed intensive care. He applied for bail - and got it(!), despite a huge string of previous violent offences. While on bail, he assaulted myself and my wife (both disabled), our son, and 2 police officers. Despite breaking his bail conditions, he was on the streets again the next day. And after the trial, he walked - smirking - from the court with a sentence of community service!!! He's offended twice more since then, but clearly thinks he's fireproof - and why not, as so far he's been right. The police are little help either - they never seem to appear until the trouble is over, and insist they can't act until an offence has actually been committed. Whatever happened to the laws against "loitering with intent?"
John, Scotland

I have just returned from three weeks in Spain's third city, Valencia. Night clubs open till 6 a.m. and not even a suggestion of any trouble. This isn't just a question of laws or licensing hours, but of culture, and it runs deep through our country's psyche. GB is an aggressive, war-like nation which produces aggressive young men; alcohol merely removes their inhibitions. The only parts of Spain which suffer similar problems are those full of young Brits!
J Cooke, Oxford

Where are all the Police while this is happening? We are supposed to have a record number of Police but we don't see any on the streets, occasionally you might see the odd Police car. Years ago, we use to have the Police walk around the town centre in Harlow where I used to live whilst you were shopping and it gave you a sense of security, now they are rarely seen.
John W., Chelmsford, Essex

The thugs commit crime quite unconcerned with the consequences due to soft punishments
Phil, England
There is currently no real way to deal with the thugs who are responsible for Yob Culture without drastic changes being made to the judicial system that is in place. The thugs commit crime quite unconcerned with the consequences due to soft punishments that are meted out should they be caught. Everyone should be treated equally, however when someone makes the decision to create destruction and to cause hurt to other people, they give up that right and should be held responsible and shouldn't be allowed to hide behind the same human rights that they have ignored of their victims.
Phil, England

How about a society that respects people's human rights, until they start violating other people's rights? Once someone clearly makes an indication that they want to join a gang and go about vandalising public and private property, or committing thuggish behaviour or continuously committing petty offences to the annoyance of the general public, then its time to start thinking about 'camps' where these people can be re-educated to behave in a civilized manner.
Laura Anderson, Westbury, England

Think there's a problem now? Just wait for the graduation of the never been slapped generation!
Sheldon Telliam, Dunstable Beds

I think the idea of bringing back National Service for yobs is a very good idea. Not along ago there was a programme on the television, "Lads Army". I clearly remember a quote which one of the participants had made "I would rather do two years in prison than 1 week doing this". How ever he pulled through after 4 weeks and now is a decent bloke. It brings out the goodness in people. This is the answer to end the yob cycle.
Luke, Stoke, UK

Why do we always get the stock answer of "Re-introduce National Service" from someone? My father did National Service, he wasn't a yob before it, and he wasn't a yob afterwards (it just wasted a year of his life and he hated it). It's insulting to everyone who served/serves this country to suggest that the military is somehow the reserve of anti-social types. The army wants professional soldiers, not a bunch of layabouts who don't want to be there.
Dan, UK

Prevention by parental responsibility and accountability. Schools to have more authority to punish. For those who break the law, instead of National Service, how about six months in a Penal Regiment, which would have the attributes of a normal regiment minus weapons training. Only by breaking yobs down and building them up again can they be reformed. Not to be confused with the 'short sharp shock' of the 70s, this would be a long-term experience which could instil respect, self-discipline and a work ethic.
Anon, Preston, UK

I find people just as selfish under New Labour
Gerry B, UK
Re-introduce National Service which would also teach discipline and respect? Besides, Mr Slater-Walker from Watford, isn't it becoming a bit of a tired argument blaming all societies' ills on Mrs Thatcher? I find people just as selfish under New Labour.
Gerry B, UK

It's simple. Look at how Denmark or Norway run their country for example. It's a complete contrast. What you put in is what you get out, isn't it? They taught you that one at school. Higher taxes, National Service, less 'junk-nation' attitude through the media and a healthier lifestyle. See what it can do for a society. The UK however, being blinded by money, materialism, power and greed as it continually is, is unlikely to experience any real change for the better. Very sad ending for a once great nation.
Michael, London, UK.

For too long rights have been put first and responsibilities ignored. The two go together. No rights without responsibilities.
Paul B, Hoddesdon, UK

The general public is fuming over the limitless tolerance and feeble attitude shown by the authorities
John, Leamington Spa, UK
Responses so far say it all. The general public is fuming over the limitless tolerance and feeble attitude shown by the authorities towards so-called anti-social behaviour. There's one in place in our neighbourhood to stop boy racers. The local Police tell us it took a super-human effort in terms of paperwork to obtain it and the result? Weedy home-made paper notices on the lamp posts warning the miscreants it's in place. Er, that's it.
John, Leamington Spa, UK

What hope is there when the local magistrates continually grant later and later extensions to pubs? Decent behaviour should be enforced in schools, taught as a subject to infants. It could be done if there was a will.
Nola Heslop, Crook, Co Durham, UK

Education. The parents of these yobs are the first generation of a failed schooling system . Let's allow the teachers to TEACH, not hit targets and fill in paperwork. Give them the ability to control their classes, and let's stop protecting these yobs. They have rights, but surely they pass them up when they act in this manner. Why should *I* pay to have them 'looked after'. Short, sharp, shock.
Gordon McLean, Hamilton, Scotland

No drinking till you are 21
Scott Maxwell, Edinburgh
Simple. No drinking till you are 21 enforced through strict ID system like in the USA. For those that don't get them message and continue to be destructive, there are plenty of uninhabited Scottish islands where we can drop them off to think about it for a few weeks!
Scott Maxwell, Edinburgh

Gerry B writes "isn't it becoming a bit of a tired argument blaming all societies' ills on Mrs Thatcher? I find people just as selfish under New Labour." Tony Blair is just Maggie Thatcher in drag. If I still lived in England I think it would be time to start vandalizing things - just too make up for all the stuff I didn't do in my youth and to annoy all the old rabid reactionaries who have posted here.
Bill, Toronto, Canada

Can't believe it but John B has just posted much the same response. I have lived in the US and Germany and decided a few months back to file for Australia.
Tim, London

Why do so many people jump on the National Service bandwagon, why should the military be saddled with the dregs of society? The way to approach these yobs is to humiliate them in the eyes of their mates, Asbos should be amended to include immediate community work, clearing of the mess they have made, dressed in a nice yellow uniform perhaps clearly marked ASBO. But of course we can't do that their Human Rights would be violated, what a society we now have born out of the PC do-gooders.
Cliff,

Morons exist whoever governs the county
Ce Black, London
In response to Christopher Walker of Watford, I don't recall Margaret Thatcher ever saying that was ok to go out and be violent and destructive. I think that the whole point was to take responsibility for your own life, get off your backside and work for what you want when all of the tools to attain this are available. One of those tools is your brain. Another tool is imagination. Morons exist whoever governs the county.
Ce Black, London

Many correspondents are calling for National Service solutions. Why on earth would the armed forces want idiots like these yobs?
Tony Walton, London, England

Perhaps John B will realise when he gets wherever he is going, that misbehaved teenagers are not just a UK problem. It is more to do with the way that society has changed over the past few decades as people's desires and priorities have changed. Until the govt catches up with the real-world, it is a problem that will be difficult to tackle.
Greg Heywood, UK

The answer is obvious, a return to the old-fashioned values of discipline and respect at school
Hazel, Manchester, England
When a generation of young people who have never heard the word 'no' from their parents grow into spoilt, rudderless, amoral thugs, are we really surprised? Those parents are in turn the products of the liberal attitudes of the 70's, when it was fashionable to let your kids 'do their own thing'. Say no more, the answer is obvious, a return to the old-fashioned values of discipline and respect at school and at home, backed up by a zero-tolerance court system.
Hazel, Manchester, England

Mercifully, I am one of the lucky ones to be emigrating soon. We are in terrible trouble in this nation. There is no hope.
John B, UK

I recommend transportation to Australia. Previous generations of miscreants never troubled these isles again, whilst their descendents have channelled their energies constructively, in achieving an enviable level of sporting success.
Neil, Surrey, UK

I must disagree Miss Hynes, while I fully understand the implications of cause and effect, what does the law abiding community owe to those who stand only to destroy and take from it? Why should the tax payer pay for the solution of whatever motivates these animals to act against society? What is needed it more police, tougher consequences and the use of convict labour to pay for it. Once again make the punishment so severe the crime is unthinkable.
Sandy, Edinburgh

Unfortunately this yob culture is down to the liberalism of the 70's.Their parents have no respect for other people so how can their offspring be expected to behave.
Toby Coulson, Cobham, Surrey

Time to stand up and say no more in my name
Carole, UK
When are people going to take responsibility for themselves rather than blame everyone or something else for what is happening in this country today? We are to tolerant and that is part of why we have bred the present culture. Time to stand up and say no more in my name.
Carole, UK

Youth today never undergo the experience of fear - not from their parents, their teachers, the police or the courts. In order to get the adrenalin running, they seek the thrill of stealing a car, or beating up a passer by. When confronted by apprehension and punishment, they just don't know how to respond. They have never experienced fear before. A brutal sentence handed down by a court is not going to be any good at all. It's far too late by then.
Chris H, Walton on Thames, Surrey

If those students who seriously misbehave at school have such a track record of anti-social behaviour, why is not more being done to cure the problem at conception rather than inception? The government needs to tackle poor social development amongst young people if it want to avoid life long anti-social problems.
James, Bedford, England

In 1992 I went on a thieving rampage. The magistrates were a joke. I had four conditional discharges before being put in jail for two weeks. I feel great regret for the harm I caused people and I wish the courts would've dealt with me in a more severe way to start with. It's not the police that aren't dealing with yobs. It's the middleclass suckers that are our magistrates.
anon, UK

If it is not tackled firmly enough, it will fail and we will suffer the consequences
Fi, Leeds
There should be a No Tolerance policy for people who behave in an anti-social manner. Vandalism and other destruction should be seen as the result of people with a mental illness and these people should be sent for evaluation in anger management programs and jailed failing that. If it is not tackled firmly enough, it will fail and we will suffer the consequences.
Fi, Leeds

They have to take these 'yobbos' seriously. One should give them a future, through which they can build up more responsibility towards the society..!
Dré, Appingedam, Netherlands

A lot of comments that I have read seem to consider yobbish behaviour a past time exclusive to the young. I would suggest a more liberal attitude to the dolling out judgement, blame and brimstone instead of victimising a single demographic that are probably doing nothing worse than what many of the contributors here did when they were young.
Jo, Bristol, England

Make them pay for whatever damage they cause and if they refuse take it from the parents starting with the telly, computers, and anything that can be resold if they refuse enlist them in the army.
Doug, Liverpool

Let's get one thing clear here: yobs are not intelligent people
Tom Whyman, Hampshire, England
Let's get one thing clear here: yobs are not intelligent people. They have to realize that they can't act threateningly towards others, and the government has to make sure they learn this lesson. Obviously the jails are too full, what with all the 'terrorism suspects' indefinitely locked up, so the law has to try something more imaginative. Lobotomies, for instance.
Tom Whyman, Hampshire, England

Asbos are useless. How about National Service training instead?
Matthew Moran, UK

I would bring back the stocks for these vermin. Maximum embarrassment and a cost effective use of rotten fruit. Try looking "cool" while being laughed at and covered in rancid tomatoes.
Joe S, UK

Police Constables were put in cars and their numbers reduced. Alcohol licences were granted to late night cheap drink clubs. 'Alco-pops' were introduced. Penalties for yob behaviour are less than those for minor motoring offences, with some violent drunks merely sent on their way with a kindly, 'Now don't be naughty again" warning. What kind of people are in charge that they sit and wonder what can be done?
Ed, Aberdeen, Scotland

Drop this silly idea that discipline only belongs in the home, bring back good, old fashioned six-of-the best discipline in schools, and teach our young some self respect and respect for other members of the community.
Graham Rodhouse, Helmond, The Netherlands

The orders are quite clearly a publicity stunt
John B, St Helens, UK
I know personally of several youths who have cut off their electronic tags (up to fifteen times) broken their curfews and been riding round in stolen cars while the subject of Asbos the orders are quite clearly a publicity stunt, the offenders know that there is no real punishment behind this paper tiger.
John B, St Helens UK

I think that local naming & shaming might help. Local news channels & papers should show the pictures of yobs. It may be a move back towards stocks but it's worth trying
Peter Smith, London

The nature of this country changed very much for the worse thanks to one person - Margaret Thatcher. It was under her misrule when it became normal for everyone to think only of themselves and grab whatever they could, regardless of the consequences and regardless of the effect on everyone else. Until Thatcher, there was indeed industrial unrest but there was at least a consensus about the way to behave in relation to other people, and that covered all the little things in life as well as the big ones.
Christopher Slater-Walker, Watford England

Bring back the stocks, flogging, and "name and shame" the scum. Sod their "rights", our rights as law abiding citizens should be a higher priority than theirs.
John, Glasgow

Prison is meant for serious criminals, not some sort of holding centre for 'bad' people. Asbos may well be an imaginative and effective tool given a chance but it is rightly clear in the mind of the legal system that there is a difference between rapists, murderers, thieves and hooligans. If councils do not use the apparatus the government gives them, that is a separate problem that the ambassadors ought tackle, but as to the effectiveness of those tools, offering a viable effective alternative to a 'throwing away the key' mentality is surely a good thing.
Colm, Cambridge

Sanctimonious responses from people viewing their own youth through rose-tinted glasses does not help
Anon, UK
Mods and Rockers, Teddy-Boys, Razor Gangs in Glasgow.... all yob cultures of the past. This is a not a new problem, but one that remains a part of our xenophobic and intolerant culture. Sanctimonious responses from people viewing their own youth through rose-tinted glasses does not help. 'Yob Culture' runs much deeper in this country than many will acknowledge. Responding to this culture with Asbos - political yobbery in itself - will ensure that two wrongs do not make a right.
Anon, UK

I feel that we are seeing the effects of lack of parental standards and discipline. How many parents know what their children are doing? As well as punishing the perpetrators of the crimes, we should be making parents take responsibility for their children and their actions.
Dithean, Scotland

I've been in Connecticut for nearly a year and was immediately aware of the different attitude of young people here. There is much less yob-ishness but then the drinking age is 21 and it's strictly enforced. Everyone has to show ID to purchase alcohol, even my husband and I (60 and 59)! Respect for personal property is high. Incidents of vandalism are widely reported and roundly condemned, there's no doubt about the outcome for anyone caught messing with someone else's property. The emphasis is very much on family. Mum, Dad and kids of all ages go out together and when the teenagers meet at the local shops it's more about "hanging out" than "smashing up".
Pam Green, New Fairfield, Connecticut, USA

At risk of sounding very right wing - which I am not, the answer is to deny them something they value. Freedom - they should be detained in prison with a minimum sentence of say 14 days, perhaps even required to undertake US style work (chain gangs?) clearing litter (Sunday mornings), and on a wider scale, cut the nonsense of giving them their human rights.
George, UK

Yob culture is celebrated in the mass media so what other role models do young people choose? And if people end up being hooligans, they don't have to face the consequences of their actions. Add in the fact that family values are less and less respected and you end up with the situation that you have now.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

Let's face it, this is not a knee jerk reaction, it has been going on for some time now, all they will get is soft punishment if any, yes we can try to understand the root cause but nothing will be done about it. Wait 20 years and see how far down the road we are, by then it will be much too late, the majority of people want something done but a small minority of weak liberal intellectuals impose their misguided dogma on us, time will tell.
John, England

We should bring back strong punishment
Matt, Dublin, Ireland
The punishment we give today, isn't punishment it's a reward. The yob go to jail were they sit around and do nothing, get to meet more yobs, creating a network of yobs. We give them TV's with 100's of channels, recreational areas, and when they get they decide that they had such a good time in prison they do it all over again! We should bring back strong punishment, get chain gang out cleaning the mess they made, get them to give back to the community the vandalized.
Matt, Dublin, Ireland

Yob culture could be greatly reduced if members of the public would unite when they see someone being attacked. My 17 year old son was attacked outside a train station in broad daylight by yobs for no reason whatsoever. When he cried out for help people just walked by.
Jamie Poch, Romfrord, Essex

Yob culture is part of the same problem of no parental control and politically correct syndrome. We can do nothing until the legal system gives tougher sentences and parents are made to pay.
T Newman, Bournemouth UK

Maybe if we got these young men jobs instead of letting them waste their time drinking down at the pub, they would start to lead more responsible and less violent lives. Unfortunately I don't see much happening from the government to ease the lives of the young.
D Holloway, London

What has changed? When people of my age were teenagers and older this yob culture was not in existence. Society has become far too soft in its dealings with yobs and the punishments should be much harsher. If you smash a phone box, you pay for it and go to prison for a spell. The courts need to toughen up and make the punishments fit the crime, people are fed up with it and even don't want to go out at night for fear of being attacked, robbed etc.
Peter Berry, Portsmouth, England

I think they should put their efforts into bringing in tougher sentences for younger children
Mark Ambrose, London UK
I think they should put their efforts into bringing in tougher sentences for younger children instead. Too many know that they are beyond the law as they are under an age at which they can be locked up. I don't think letting them go and hoping they'll grow out of it does anybody any good. Certainly not the victims. Also, the CPS should get some guts.
Mark Ambrose, London UK

Nope. It won't help at all. It's no good trying to enforce knee-jerk responses, when all you are doing is sweeping the root causes under the rug. Understand why, and the rest will follow naturally. Understanding the effects will not help in rooting out the cause.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK

Make them pay for every penny of damage they cause and then make them do community work....maybe that would alter the attitude of some people. Throwing them in jail serves no real purpose: hit them where it hurts: wallet.
s Gilmartin, Stuttgart, Germany

Lock them up - and for a long time! Simple, easy and effective.
Rob Watson, Winchester, Hampshire

Sadly, the only solution to the antisocial behaviour problem is one that many people don't like to hear: there need to be swift consequences to criminal actions, such as assault and serious vandalism. At the moment, it is all to easy for someone to commit violent crime and get away with it - I have personal experience of this, and it completely destroys all faith one has in the justice system to see it happen.
Larry Docherty, Scotland, UK




SEE ALSO
Ambassadors to fight yob culture
30 Aug 04 |  UK Politics
Asbo woman's attacker is jailed
23 Aug 04 |  Manchester
Blair urges new era in crime fight
19 Jul 04 |  UK Politics
Asbos 'to criminalise youngsters'
19 Jul 04 |  UK Politics
The wonderful world of Asbos
19 Jul 04 |  Magazine
'Yob-busters' to target 12 areas
23 Apr 04 |  West Midlands

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