Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

Young 'resent negative images'

Teenagers are annoyed by negative stereotyping, says survey

Young people are complaining about a diet of negative news media stories about them in a research project from the National Children's Bureau.

The survey of young people's attitudes claimed that the media had a highly skewed view of their experiences.

They felt they were usually depicted in terms of crime, sex and drugs - with the only positive images coming from exceptional cases such as sports stars.

An overwhelming majority thought that young people were depicted negatively.


"What concerns us about the findings of this research, is the clearly negative impact that sensational, negative reporting is having on young people," concludes the report; Media Portrayal of Young People - impact and influences.

"Many who participated felt angry and resentful that the widely publicised negative behaviours of minority groups within the youth population are dominating the headlines."

The study considered how teenagers saw themselves in stories in local and national newspapers and television news.

It found that young people felt themselves to be misrepresented - with their lives seen through stories about knives, guns, teenage pregnancies and drugs.

The only balance to this negativity, they believed, were equally unrepresentative stories of extreme success - such as medal-winning athletes or the highest-performing pupils in exams.


These stories were about "extraordinary individuals with rare talents, rather than average young people".

The idea that "bad news sells" meant that there was little coverage of the ordinary, hard-working lives of youngsters, at home with their families or studying at school, says the report.

Such a repetition of images of gangs and "hoodies" could influence public attitudes to youngsters, says the study.

Adults could shun young people because they were afraid of them - and young people could have an exaggerated fear of other people of their own age.

A young researcher who took part in the project, Naushin Shariff, said: "I have made heads turn and had adults cross the road when I wear my hood up because I was feeling cold.

"I am not an aggressive person, nor a 'feral youth', but am treated like one. It is only a minority that cause trouble, yet the media seem to label us all.

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