Youth Culture

A few years ago, newspapers ran the story of a group of college students who set fire to some churches in Alabama for a supposed prank. Further, some teenagers woke up a homeless man and beat him until he died for no real reason.Such incidences of youth delinquency shed light on a growing phenomenon of violence among youngsters. Research has revealed that around 50% of the teens today believe that violence is a necessary part of their lives and is essential for protecting themselves in their daily lives. They see violence as a means of resolving many of their issues and of getting their way ahead. This has resulted in the development of youth gangs and in a number of incidents regarding school shootings and violence at school. This can be due to the easy availability and access to fire arms in recent years (Savage, 2007).In the last six years, there has been an increase on gang violence of around 85% in large cities and of around 50% in suburban areas.  These gangs have mostly been convicted of crimes like robberies, drug dealing, burglary and automobile theft.The reasons cited for youngsters gaining membership to a gang are considered to be poor socio-economic conditions, pressure from peers, feelings of despair and loneliness and sometimes out of boredom. Many people join gangs to appear ‘cool’ or tough (Clark, 2004).Poverty, unemployment and hopelessness often force young people to join gangs as they help them earn quite a fair amount of money through drug selling, robberies and petty crimes. If young people are unable to earn enough through legitimate sources they often turn to gangs as a means of providing for themselves and their families (Portes, 2002).Sometimes peer pressure can be a huge force in compelling young people to follow the drift and end up in gangs as a way of maintaining friendships or appearing part of the cool crowd.Often, young people seek membership to gangs due to being idle or having nothing better to do. They may see it as exciting or thrilling to be in a gang and might see it as an adventure. This is why many programs that start sport tournaments, gyms or music facilities are aimed at providing young people with an avenue to utilize their potential and talents rather than let it go to waste (Portes, 2002).When young people live in conditions on abject poverty, when they see no way out and feel that they belong nowhere and that there is no hope for them, they often give in to despair and a feeling of helplessness. They usually have a disturbed family life where the parents might be drug addicts or alcoholics. When they see gangs operating around them and gain membership to them, these gangs might seem as the only real family for them. They help them acquire a sense of belonging and camaraderie. The excessive usage of drugs is directly related to the growth in gangs as drugs are usually the driving force behind them (Warr, 2003).Suicide has recently become one of the top three ways in which teenagers are losing their lives. Even though no one can predict for sure if a youngster will commit suicide, however there are several factors which identify the risk of teens becoming suicidal. These include recurrent depression, drug abuse, any behavioural issues, possession of any weapons or any previous attempts at suicide (Winfree, Backstrom & Mays, 2004).Depression usually appears in symptoms like withdrawal from friends and family, lack of appétit, a loss of interest in activities which teens usually enjoy, and recurrent discussions of death or suicide. To keep up with depression many teens resort to drugs which tie them up into a vicious cycle of addiction, despair and sorrow from which there is no reprieve. Substance abuse also causes teens to obtain a high where they commit life threatening actions without taking into account the consequences.Most teens that are suicidal usually show signs of having behavioural issues with friends and family. They get into regular fights with parents or get into trouble at school for mischief. Previously it was thought that shy, young introverts were most likely to commit suicide (Clark, 2004).However, research has shown that it is the loud, annoying kid who is highly prone to commit suicide. His boisterous behaviour is a means of keeping the world out and of dwelling alone in his sad, depressed life (Winfree, Backstrom & Mays, 2004).When young people have easy access to weapons it becomes very simple and easy for them to quit their lives if the thought crosses their mind before he has time to weigh the consequences (Warr, 2003).Almost half the teenagers who have survived a previous suicide attempt are likely to attempt it again. For some, it may be an attempt at seeking attention and for others it represents a serious underling problem. Sometimes certain painful events, feelings of rejection, and failing at school or not being able to find a job may be reasons for suicide (Sykes & Matza, 2005).In some cases these suicides have taken the shape of school killings where young people have shot many others dead before killing themselves. Reports by the US Dept od Education claim that over 6000 students have been expelled due to the possession of firearms and many incidences have occurred where young people have chosen violence as a mean of expressing their anger. These shootings have seen evidence of premeditation on the part of the perpetrators as well as a history of depression and being social outcasts (Winfree, Backstrom & Mays, 2004).Being high on drugs has been one of the most popular reasons for such criminal acts. ABC News reported that the Columbia High teens that carried out a shooting massacre were high as they pulled the trigger. It was a kind of game for them (Sykes & Matza, 2005).Often the reasons cited for youth delinquency include the lack of a proper education, and poor living conditions. Sometimes it is a form of seeking revenge against society, parents, school authorities or friends. It has been found that larger schools have more such problems as some people find themselves alienated. Also drug abuse and an inability to fully gauge the magnitude and consequences of their actions lead young people to carry put such activities (Warr, 2003).Needless to say, violence is seeping into youth culture. Many people blame the current media, movies and music and the high level of violent content they possess for causing young people to turn violent. As mentioned above, there are many psycho-social factors involved which have appeared to be the cause of recent violence among young people (Sykes & Matza, 2005).Through proper counselling and support, many young people can be shown the light of a brighter and better life and not one that is the picture of a boot stamping on a human face forever.(George Orwell) they can be shown that they are capable of a lot and facilities can be provided for their adequate training so that they can live their life with the hope of achieving success and of making something worthwhile of their troubled lives.ReferencesClark C, (2004), Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers (Youth, Family, and Culture), Baker Book HousePortes P.R, (2002), Understanding adolescent suicide: a psychosocial interpretation of developmental and contextual factors, Adolescence (148) :805-814Savage J, (2007), Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, Viking AdultSykes G.M ; Matza D, (2005), Techniques of neutralization: a theory of delinquency, American Sociological Review Vol 24 pp 24-26Warr M, (2003), Parents, peers, and delinquency, Social Forces Vol 72 pp 15-18Winfree L.T, Backstrom T, Mays G, (2004), Social learning theory, self-reported delinquency, and youth gangs: A new twist on a general theory of crime and delinquency, Youth ; Society