Society Stigmatises Youth

Topics: Youth, Crime, Sociology Pages: 6 (1986 words) Published: January 9, 2011
Society stigmatises you.’ Consider how far you would agree with this statement. In this assignment I will look at whether society stigmatizes youth. I plan to analyze the proposition that ‘society stigmatizes youth’ and also refute the proposition with supported evidence, and conclude as to whether I believe society does stigmatize young people. Furthermore, I will provide a sustained, coherent argument of youth viewed negatively and positively. In addition, I will address how the mass media creates preconceptions of youth, which influence societies view of all young people and whether youth are or are not stigmatized by their subculture. I will also consider other factors such as a young persons demographics and government policy/legislation . In this essay I have defined Youth as ‘the time of life between childhood and maturity (Webster’s New World College Dictionary,2004 ,pg1021) nevertheless this implies that the young person is not mature therefore I believe it’s a negative generalization. Youth is difficult to define as the age that being a youth begins and ends is not a definite age, thus the characteristics that are linked to youths do not have an exact age that they should begin and end. This is due to individual’s biological, psychological and social issues being different making maturity come at different points in their life. There are many ways to define what being a youth consists of; however, the one common factor is that definitions are not universally applicable due to different cultures and religions having an impact on maturity and attitudes. Stigmatisation is defined by the free dictionary (2007) as ‘distinguishing personal trait that is perceived as or actually is physically, socially, or psychologically disadvantageous’. Youth may be viewed negatively due to the vast amount of negative coverage in media. Youth crime is as much a predicament of political and media creation as it a real threat. The media contribute significantly to the notion of ‘society stigmatizing youth’ through moral panic which is evident in youth crime whereby exceptional stories are highlighted rather statistics. Recent research by national charity Catch22, on behalf of Phillip Lawrence awards looks at adults perceptions of young people and crime. The survey found that 35% of Scottish adults thought young people had predominantly had a negative impact on their community and as many as 63% assumed that young people are involved in crime however in reality, merely 5.7% engaged in criminal activity on the other hand 8% associated young people with volunteering. Nonetheless it was apparent that 48% of all teenagers have volunteered within the communities (STV, 2009). These statistics contradict the publics views on young people as criminals. In judgment of this contradiction, young people should be awarded for their outstanding contribution to communities with the aim of overturning negative perceptions. Nichola sturgeon (2007) points out that

…We must not stigmatise, either deliberately or just as the result of lazy, over generalization, all young people for the behaviour or the majority… * The public’s intolerance is also reflected in the British Crime Survey, which indicated that the public felt young people committed up to half of all crime when in actual fact young people are responsible for only 12% (Barnados, 2008). The Chief Executive and former Director General of the Prison Service, Martin Narey (2008) highlighted that …It is appalling that words like "animal", "feral" and "vermin" are used daily in reference to children. These are not references to a small minority of children but represent the public view of all children. Despite the fact that most children are not troublesome there is still a perception that today’s young people are a more unruly, criminal lot than ever before… It is clear the British public miscalculate the amount of crime committed by young people. These stereotypes are culturally shaped...

References: Agnes, E,M.,1980.Webster’s New World.4th ed. Unknown
Barandos , 2008. The shame of Britain 's intolerance of children [online] Believe in Barandos.Availbleat:[Accessed 16/05/10]
Cohen, S.,1980. Folk Devils and Moral Panics. 3rd ed. Great Britain: Oxford
Guardian, 2010. Is the age of criminal responsibility too low at 10? [online] Society Guardian. Availiable at: [Accessed 09/05/10]
Hardy, J, 2009.Youth as producers. Concept of Youth . Youth Studies Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham.
Hardy, J, 2010. Youth as consumers.Concept of Youth. Youth Studies Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham.
Merton, R.,1968. Social Theory and Social Structure. Unknown
STV, 2009. Survey shows Scots youth seen as criminals [online] STV. Availble at: [Accessed 16/05/10]
The free dictionary, 2007. Define Stigma [online] The free Dictionary by Farlek. Availble at:< > [Accessed 16/05/10]
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