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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Are young people portrayed badly in the media?
The media tends to portray young people in an overwhelmingly negative light, according to a Mori survey.

Survey, commissioned by Young People Now magazine, suggests third of press articles about young people were about crime and 71% saw young people negatively.

Youth campaigners, backed by children's minister Margaret Hodge, say the young are being unfairly targeted and should not be linked automatically with anti-social behaviour.

They have drawn up a draft code to encourage more balanced reporting of young people, with an award scheme for those providing positive images of the young.

Are young people habitually portrayed badly in the media? Do they deserve coverage they get or do they get the coverage they deserve? Tell us what you think using a form on the right.


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

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

Every time someone comes out with stories about young people being ill-mannered, I always feel the need to comment that elderly people are much worse.
Graeme Phillips, Guildford, UK

Young people will be paying the pensions of older people as time goes on, so a bit of respect both ways is called for I think. Adolescence is a great time for the young to explore themselves and the world they live in before they enter the world of work and responsibility and they should make the most of it - the only way society evolves is by breaking a few rules here and there....
Terry, Brighton, UK

I am 18 years of age, and i personally think that the image that the media portray of young people is the true and realistic one. The majority of young people today are quite repulsive and something needs to be done about this. The more that the media reports on the hard but true facts the more likely it is that something will be done and I strongly believe that it is high time that young people changed their attitudes!
Emi King, Bournemouth, UK

Unfortunately, society is biased against the young forgetting that they too were young once!
Katie, Bucks
The majority of young people don't deserve the reputation at all; I work in a place where there is a policy against youths in a group of 5 or more being allowed to congregate in the shopping centre so must be split up. Admittedly, there are times when large groups of young people have caused trouble but the majority are just shopping and pose no threat whatsoever until intimidated by Security. That's when any abusive language or behaviour starts! Unfortunately, society is biased against the young forgetting that they too were young once!
Katie, Bucks

I suppose it depends on what we class as young people - I'm 26 and considered a young person by all those older than me! People of my age are portrayed as the ultimate Bridget Jones types, drinking, smoking, sleeping around etc. In reality everyone I know of my age has a mortgage, a well paid job, long term partners or spouses and quite respectable social lives which don't include smoking or binge drinking.
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex UK

They reap what they sow. Every time that ridiculous advert comes on TV showing bright young schoolchildren and comparing these bright young with the "boring people" you'll normally deal with in professional life, I laugh my head off. School children aren't curious, enthusiastic or fun. They're stupid, ignorant, rude, abusive and arrogant.
Josie, Reading, UK

I am over 60 and can tell you that the youngsters of today are no worse than any other previous generation. It is the media that has caused a lot of the trouble by portraying them as they do.
Eddie, Hitchin, Herts

Generalising is dangerous for the media or anyone else. But I have to say that the children I see today seem, for the most part, to be much more worldly, far more rude and impolite, not given to disciplined behaviour, and almost wholly disrespectful of adults. I'm sure there are a lot of young people doing good things, but most I personally have come across have little to boast about.
Victor, Oxford, UK

When I was a youngster, we didn't have computers and the like, yet we didn't go start fires or hurl verbal abuse
Marty, Berkshire, UK
I see the comments on here about youngsters being bored and what-not, but that is a cop-out excuse. The minority DO NOT respect ANYTHING and that is the main problem. When I was a youngster, we didn't have computers and the like, yet we didn't go start fires or hurl verbal abuse, because we had a hell of a lot more respect (Not only for other people, but for our surroundings also). What we need to do, is give "young adults" more responsibility, but ALSO they have to take responsibility for their actions. They get away with too much now!
Marty, Berkshire, UK

Whilst no-one could possibly say that every young person is an anti social hooligan, we are constantly bombarded by factual television programmes showing joyriders, graffiti artists, and drunken binge drinkers (all young people) behaving in the worst possible manner. What other impression would we get, especially when like me you know very few people under 25 and the only yardstick is the media? That said, it would seem that the anti social behaviour has become much more threatening than that of my childhood.
Elaine, Letchworth UK

Spend half an hour in Glasgow city centre and you'll see what most young people are really like. No respect for authority, no notion of responsibility, no idea how to behave in a civilised manner, mindlessly obeying their stereotype and worshipping so-called 'celebrities' instead of proper role models.
Neil (age 20), Glasgow, UK

"What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them? " Plato - 4th Century BC
Anna Cummins, Carshalton, UK

I blame the grandparents.
James Murphy, Dorset, UK

I once helped an old gentleman who had dropped his walking stick in a town near me. He was in real fear that I was going to mug him! People are afraid of all younger people and it is sad because we are all being categorised together.
Andy, Birmingham, UK

Our politicians continuously scapegoat this powerless group
Azra Jabbar, Black Country, UK
I have found in the recent elections in order to win votes Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives portrayed the youth as yobs. Politicians actual used this negative terminology in their election leaflets! I think an award scheme would need to incorporate our politicians who continuously scapegoat this powerless group towards their own vote winning aims! Will this draft code apply to ministers?
Azra Jabbar, Black Country, UK

About time someone spoke up for children. Some of them are rotten as are some adults. Thousands, if not millions, of children are active in youth movements, sports, drama & dance, charity work etc etc. Unfortunately these social activities have no news or shock value.
Jim Kirk, Basildon UK

I am not aware that too many OAPs get served with Asbos or have a discipline problem at their centres as do so many of our schools. Most of today's young people get exactly the publicity they deserve. What you see is what you get and the exceptions are just that.
Dave, Reading, Berks

The rest of us could take a chill pill now and again and not march around fuelled by disapproval
CCC, England
I have young children and frequently use teenagers for babysitters who are without exception delightful, responsible and fun, able to "relate" both to us as parents and the children as small things who need to be played with and looked after. But admittedly that is on a one to one basis. Teenagers still do themselves a great disservice by hanging around in huge packs, smoking in uniform, tossing litter, pushing and shouting, and don't get me started on town centres late at night when they can create a frankly frightening mobile Bosch painting. However, they grow out of it and I think the rest of us could take a chill pill now and again and not march around fuelled by disapproval.
CCC, England

Nothing's changed. When I was a student in the seventies I was classified, by people who didn't know me, as a long-haired, scruffy, pot-smoking layabout. The fact that people who knew me said the same thing is irrelevant.
Gareth, Bermuda

Well, young people are generally portrayed as arrogant, bad tempered, selfish and disrespectful... I think it's fairly close to the truth!
Dave, Kidderminster, England

I think Young People Now magazine and Margaret Hodge want to raise the profile of their interests. I believe that it is in the interests of reporters to present balanced articles without the need for nanny intervention. Providing awards for those providing positive images of the young amounts to positive discrimination. Especially, where the subject of the report involves youths misbehaving.
Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK

If young people are portrayed as feckless morons, the BBC should ask itself why it has deliberately dumbed down its output on the main channels in favour of a cheap and crass 'youth culture' of pop music, soap, celebrities and football.
John, London UK

The modern media seems to have an agenda about sensationalising every bad act that (the distinct minority of) young people commit, whilst turning a blind eye to the many good acts that they do, mainly because stories like that sell. No other demographic group is treated like this. We are the future of the nation...as such we should be treated equals with its past, and not written off as a bunch of beer-drinking thugs.
Ross McDonald (Age 20), Leicester, England

Let me save time by summing up the comments you'll get on this: Kids these days, hanging around on street corners, no respect for authority, know their rights, law can't touch them, watch too much telly, listen to the wrong music, exams far too easy, not like in my day, bring back national service / the birch. Which kind of proves the point.
Anon, UK

I do think young people (including myself) do get stereotyped by the media, all too frequently
Amanda Downes, London
I do think young people (including myself) do get stereotyped by the media, all too frequently. The media have never been able to find the right medium to portray the youth. The media seems to show the youth today as unintelligent, whereas, the youth of today have far more intelligence than the youth of yester-year. Bring the media into touch with youth, by having more young people involved.
Amanda Downes, London

Whilst children have never been angels and each generation has had a hooligan element, I have to say that each generation has tried to out do the previous in anti social behaviour. Children today are much worse than preceding generations and like a snowball, the bad children of yesterday are the awful parents of today. Children today are not cheeky they are aggressive, abusive, and rebellious. Not all children, but unfortunately most, and that's where the change is. In the past a very small minority caused problems and now it is the majority.
Kevin Parker, Kent, UK

The Media, especially the tabloids and 24 hour news channels, are all about headlines. Bad news makes bigger headlines than good news and allows more exaggeration and knee jerk reactions. Young people are no worse, or better, than in days gone by.
Graeme, England

I couldn't agree more. Not only are young people portrayed badly, the whole issue is actually adding to the problem on the streets. Because of the widespread impact of TV it makes it acceptable to behave badly because it appears "normal" (in terms of what we see on TV) to most people. This is poor role modelling.

Any argument that the media reflects society is blatantly wrong. The media shapes society and must take responsibility. It's about time someone made a big deal of the unaccountable nature of our media.
Tom, Taunton, UK

I am a teenager and have never been in any trouble with the police. I have seen quite a few stories on the news about young kids that are causing havoc in their neighbourhoods, I think it's right for them to be named and shamed on the TV, I just don't agree with the stereotyping that goes hand in hand with those stories.
Lynnette, Barry, S.Wales

We knock youth whenever we can
John, England
Every week I take my 12 year old son and two of his mates to Scouts. Every week I get lectured by one particular old fogey about the Anti-Social behaviour of the Scouts, and their supervisors. This particular person is convinced that this small group of extremely well behaved and well mannered young people are plotting to burgle him whilst they wait outside the Scout Hut for their lifts home.

Clearly he perceives all young people negatively, and to be honest I'm not surprised. We knock youth whenever we can. If they get good exam results it's because the work is easy. If they don't do well they're lazy. If they stay indoors they're couch potatoes. If they go out with their mates, they are accused of being louts. They can't win!
John, England

You can blame the media for anything you like - but it seems as if this current batch of youngsters are genuinely a bad lot, getting away with things that my generation would never have dreamt of. Morally bankrupt, decadent and selfish they have to earn "positive" coverage if they want it
Rico Pooch, London

The media portrays pretty much everyone in a bad light
Lee, Winchester, England

I see as many positive stories about young people in the media as I do negative ones. Then again, I don't read tabloid papers, so I get balanced, unbiased, honest coverage of most issues.
Jon, Welwyn Garden City, UK

I think that the media image is well founded. The youth of today is ill mannered with no respect for their elders and betters.
Ed , Chester

Having been sworn at and had stones thrown at me by a gang of 12-14 year olds simple for asking them not to set the bus top I was sitting at on fire, leads me to believe that the media does not portray the half of it.
Barry Lowry, London Uk

I am in my fifties and love the younger generation but is saddens me when the mass media treat all young people like thugs. What have we as adults done so that the youth can look up and say yes the adults are worth following? How many young people start wars? How many young people take bribes? How many young people run newspapers and TV stations? What is the adult legacy for today's youth?
Thomas C Kantha, Osaka Japan

Many quite seriously support ludicrous measures that effectively make being young a crime
Stephanie Clarke, Cambridge, UK
It would be nice to see a better portrayal of young people. People are so brainwashed by the bad publicity that many quite seriously support ludicrous measures that effectively make being young a crime, for example the recent discussions about curfews for under 16's - whether they've done anything or not.
Stephanie Clarke, Cambridge, UK

I think young people really need to be treated, and referred to, as young adults. At their age, they're way ahead of what we were in terms of knowledge, attitude and general awareness of 'adult' issues. Yet, they're still dismissed as children. Hardly surprising that their frustrations are vented negatively! The government needs to realise that the current line on who and who isn't an adult, needs to be dropped to a suitable level to give young adults the responsibility, accountability and involvement that they need.
Joseph, uk

We all get the impressions we deserve! Adults' views of children have not changed since the beginning of time. All that has changed is that we report the sensational (bad) behaviour while ignoring all the boring (good) things that young people do, not the least of which is to grow up with a better sense of justice and fair play than their ancestors.
JohnM, LyneMeads,UK

I reckon the youth are portrayed in this light as they are easy to pick on. I mean most anti-social youngsters are simply bored, that's all. Bored with a stale school environment, bored with long dark cold winters and bored by a complete lack of places to go. This might sound shocking, but they have a terrible quality of life that no amount of game consoles or alcopops can make up for. Perhaps if the media and government spent more time and money on giving young people a quality of life things might change.
Gary King, Galashiels, Scotland




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