Concern about young people and anti-social behaviour is related to age - but not in the way many people think.
posted on: Sep 29, 2010
A study has found that the percentage of adults who perceive teenagers hanging around to be a serous problem in their neighbourhood decreases for each successive age group – so that people of pensionable age (64 years or over) are half as likely to perceive this problem, compared to young adults aged 16-24 years. Statistical analysis adjusting for potential confounders found this difference to be significant. The findings are based on the 2006 survey of around 6000 householders aged 16 or over in 14 disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Glasgow undergoing regeneration.
Dr Matt Egan, senior research scientist states that, “Rather than primarily a case of old people being prejudiced against the young, we found that the older you get, the less likely you are to think local teenagers hanging around are a problem in your neighbourhood.”
He goes on to say that “Our research shows that this tendency for older people to be less concerned about teenagers hanging around applies in disadvantaged communities, where perceptions of anti-social behaviour are generally highest.”
This finding is also supported by national evidence.
According to Dr Egan, “We think these findings should be used to challenge stereotypes that portray old people as generally prejudiced or fearful towards the young. However, the findings also suggest a further need to look at what makes some young people concerned about other young people in their area - and how younger communities can be brought closer together.”
These findings are of note because the UK has been singled out in the past for being a place where young people are particularly discriminated against. Whilst the GoWell Researchers emphasise the importance of identifying and tackling all forms of discrimination, these findings have lead them to think that a general intolerance against young people does not seem to be a defining characteristic of people living in Glasgow’s less advantaged communities.
Professor Ade Kearns, Principal Investigator on GoWell, added that “There is a recognition among adults that many communities lack sufficient services and amenities for young people. However, in discussions with us, both adults and young people also acknowledge that relations between the generations in local areas could often be improved. Partly for these reasons, we have recently argued that the regeneration of deprived areas has to include social and community programmes as well as housing and environmental improvements.”
The survey was taken in 2006, and has since been repeated (2008) and will be repeated further (e.g. next year) as part of the GoWell programme.
GoWell is a collaborative partnership between the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, the University of Glasgow, and the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, sponsored by Glasgow Housing Association, the Scottish Government, NHS Health Scotland and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.