Essay on Problem Youth

Published: 2021/11/18
Number of words: 2727

Most people link the period between childhood and teenage years with innocence and pureness. On the other hand, individuals view youths and young adults as delinquent, troublesome, and deviant. When individuals become youths, they tend to divert from society’s rules, laws, and norms. In today’s modern world, youths are increasingly associated with various problems and challenges. These include; participating in group or individual violence, mass unemployment, sexually transferred disease or infections, drug abuse, early pregnancy, immature parenthood, and abortion. It is indeed a fact that youths are the most vulnerable and fragile in the community. Historically, youths have been known to be susceptible to hostility, aggression, and crimes. However, there’s a drastic change in urban youth violence, observed from various acts performed in recent years. Unlike past violence, urban youths are experimenting with various forms of crimes. These include; robbery, rioting, looting, assault, arson, and even murder. The cause of such behavior is unemployment, poverty, racial conflicts, economic disparities, and social exclusion. Violent riots that erupted in various parts of London in the year 2011 is proof of problematic youths. The protest that extended from the 6th to 11th of August wounded many killed some, and destroyed public and private properties. The formation of gangs, organized mobs, and the use of social media to mobilize youths indicates a new form of youth violence. This paper aims to discuss how the 2011 summer riots in London and other parts of the United Kingdom (UK) indicated a disturbing new pattern of urban youth violence about the historical representation of problem youth.

Muncie claims that the declining economic status of the country contributed to youth violence. He quotes, “A growing number of children, therefore, were fundamentally displaced and, within such adverse social and economic conditions, gravitated towards delinquent activities and acquisitive forms of petty crimes in order to survive” (Muncie, 2014, pp. 51). Similarly, those who participated in the 2011 riots in London partly did it as a survival mechanism. The series of violent riots in different streets included mass looting and stealing (Howe & Seymour, 2021). This kind of behavior among urban youth symbolizes lack of jobs, money, and basic needs. However, the country’s criminal law has a specific consideration for what constitutes a crime and what doesn’t. In most cases, youth violence, for example, joyriding, vandalism, or hooliganism, is not entirely recognized by the state as a criminal offense. Yet, the recent riots have shown a distressing new pattern of violence by modern youths. They have taken violence to a whole new level, with the destruction of the community, its people, and the delicate fabric that holds society together. These movements and riots happening across the countries is an indication of the problematic youths in the nation. The August event reveals an emotional instability and a rapid shift in the youths’ intensity of violence. This occurrence saw the destruction of numerous homes and public properties, injury of many innocent people, and even death.

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The topic of youth is a new construct that came up in the 19th century. Many literature writings, media, news, music, and films portray youths as wicked, disruptive, and deviant. Psychologists assert that youths transitioning to adulthood tend to experience emotional instability or turmoil (McCallion, 2018). During this period, they don’t understand themselves or the world around them. As a result, most will make immoral, uninformed, and unethical decisions that can ruin their lives and future. Moreover, their actions can negatively affect their families, friends, and other people around them The Victorian community represents childhood as an innocent stage, whereby they train, instruct, and protect them (Gunter, 2017). Society does not allow the child to be independent, free, or autonomous. However, they reinforce that early labour problems manifest in disordered leisure, which causes youth mobs or gangs. Gunter postulates that black problem youth arise from the stipulation that color is relatively liked to poverty and gang violence (Gunter, 2017). Similarly, the beginning of industrialization was a growing concern for the general public and society at large. Most people perceive urban cities, especially the black-dominated cities, as breeding grounds for delinquency, indiscipline, and chaos. The new wave of youth violence experienced in today’s modern world is much more evolved than before. Unlike the Victorian boy-child labor cause, a wave of unemployment has turned youths into petty criminals. Without a productive or constructive occupation to keep them busy, the young men and women have extra time to engage in unlawful activities. The 2011 riots recorded lootings in several parks, indicating the youth’s alarming poverty level (Howe & Seymour, 2021). Thus, the country’s lack of employment opportunities has turned productive youths into an unruly and violent mob.

Racial discrimination was and is still prevalent in the country. Blacks face numerous stereotypes that place them in disadvantaged positions. The colored youths face unfair treatment in the community and the criminal justice system, compared to their white counterparts. Historically, African Americans, Hispanic, and colored groups received special consideration or attention based on their skin colour. Gunter indicates that most of the population link black youths to drugs, crime, or violent gang groups (Gunter, 2017). According to him, institutionalized racism is the leading cause of discrimination and marginalization in the community today. These widely spread stereotypical thinking has triggered fear in public, creating a notion or belief that black youths are dangerous and a problem to society. Likewise, London’s recent violence is a response to racial conflicts and tension that grasped the country. The shooting of Mark Duggan, an Irish man of African Caribbean descent, spiked the riots that lasted for six days (“Riots in Tottenham after Mark Duggan shooting the protest,” 2021). Police officers wrongfully suspected Duggan in their investigation of gun possession and crime among the black society. His murder is among the many racial killings reported over the years in the United Kingdom. However, judgments based on race affiliation is in most cases, including this, is wrong or misleading. These proceedings reveal a new pattern of youth violence that cuts across racial boundaries. Black or colored youths are no longer satisfied with the little recognition they get. As such, most resort to violence to fight for equal treatment, opportunities, and proper acknowledgment.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram are useful in facilitating communication, disseminating information, and sharing important news. The use of such mediums is quite popular among teenagers and youths, as compared to older adults. Most people pour out their frustration, challenges, problems, achievements, and even their daily activities on these sites. However, the power of modern technology should not be underestimated. It can be used to improve an individual’s daily operations but also to destroy people’s lives. Tripathi posits that young people usually find themselves attracted to or intrigued by propagating violence through various social media accounts (Tripathi, 2017). Similarly, youths use numerous mediums of technology to mobilize other people to acts of violence. The technology today is much more advanced than it was before. Therefore, information can be distributed to a mass number of people within seconds. For example, the participants of the August London riots planned their activities through mobile phones. The media also reported that looters used BlackBerry messenger to organize their robbery activities and alert each other of their operations (Howe & Seymour, 2021). Apart from this, individuals used Twitter accounts to recount the events and share their views about the violent march. Violence is perpetrated in the street and initiated and cultured through the media (Irwin-Rogers & Pinkney, 2017). This shows a worrying new pattern of urban youth violence in the county and the respective communities.

Youth’s behaviors, actions, and attitudes have historically attracted the eye and attention of police officers, media, and policy-makers. It is a fact that the ‘problem’ youth concept is closely associated with a moral panic history. There is an alarming fear which concerns the working and poor youth groups in the country. The issue of youth governance and proposed social policies has attracted varied opinions from the past to the present day. Gunter argues that some people see the social policy welfare for youths as the country’s attempt to pacify and neutralize impoverished young adults (Gunter, 2010). This move will ensure that the state’s political, economic, and social spheres remain calm and stable. On the other hand, some believe that the initiatives implemented during the 1970s aimed at reducing conflicts and riots amidst the youths’ high unemployment rate (Gunter, 2010). Seal and Harris define youth violence as the “Physically, psychologically, socially, and materially damaging behavior that is exerted by, or against children and young people” (Seal & Harris, 2016, pp. 23). Therefore, according to them, youth work is a social policy that can combat youth violence in society. The high unemployment rate in London might be a factor in the 2011 violent riots. The country’s population is rapidly increasing, causing a strain in the business world. Therefore, creating enough jobs for the state’s youth can be a long-time solution for the uncouth behavior observed in recent years.

Urban deterioration and social or communal exclusion are the leading causes of anti-social actions and behaviors. The social and economic imbalance within the society has led to sporadic violent riots by youths. The brutal force witnessed in the recent violent acts in London’s streets shows a relatively new disturbing form or pattern of youth violence. The attacks took place in various cities, symbolizing the universality of problem youth. Similarly, Siham & Faiza say, “Just like the problem of violence in general, youth violence is not unique to a specific region or country, but it is considered as a global public health problem” (Siham & Faiza, 2017, pp. 37). They indicate that community circles, various societal aspects, individual personalities, and broken relationships shape troubled youth adults and stimulate youth violence. Furthermore, Siham & Faiza claim a 148% increase in youth violence between 1984 and 1994 (Siham & Faiza, 2017, pp. 35). Since then, youth violence has become a rising problem in the country, with more young men committing homicide, robbery, arson, and riots. In today’s context, the rioters from the 2011 violent eruptions insisted that government and societal exclusions are the cause of the uproar (Howe & Seymour, 2021). Most state heads do not create time to listen to their country’s youth. As such, they feel like the only way the state will hear their concern over societal, political, and economic challenges is through a systematic aggressive approach.

Even though youth violence is a nation-wide problem, people view young girls or women as a lesser threat to the country. Studies indicate sexual tension and arousal spark violent tendencies among youths (Muncie, 2014). Since women are not strongly governed or controlled by their sexual urges or drive, they rarely participate in violent orchestrations. This is because women’s inherent desire to continue their responsive families’ lineage encourages them to make informed decisions. While most men spent hours contemplating destructive thoughts, young girls usually think about maintaining a fertile menstruation circle for future fertility and productivity. Apart from this, women tend to concentrate and direct all their attention to current beauty standards and trends. As such, the female gender representation in violence is relatively low compare to men’s rate. Historical accounts attribute this low turn-out to their obedient nature and biological responsibility as caretakers (Muncie, 2014). Besides, although only a small number of girls are juveniles, they also exhibit problematic behaviors that are alarming. For example, they may leave their homes or commit small acts of crime, such as robbery or assault. Moreover, social media influence urban young girls, deceiving them into violence and deviant behaviors. Most of the youth’s violent movements in the past and recent years report more male criminals than females. However, the August violence registered a new structure of youth violence as more women participants showed up for the riots (Howe & Seymour, 2021). Nevertheless, male youths still record a higher number of delinquents and juveniles than females in this modern society.

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As earlier mentioned, youth violence involves force by the youth against other people in the community. This violence cuts across various acts such as; robbery, physical and verbal assault, gun shooting, and even murder. Studies indicate that most youth violence occurs in mob formation (Smirnov, 2017). This is because most young adults exhibit a degree of confidence when they act as a large group. Put, the higher the number of offenders, the lesser the guilt streak. Although similar to gang operations, youth mob violence is different since the individuals act out of their own will and not that of the group. Nevertheless, this pattern of youth violence has threatened society’s peace and the whole country’s wellbeing. In the recent past, youths have recorded the highest number of mob violence, public destruction, and mob murder. The London riots have shown a new trend in youth violence by executing innocent people by youth mob justice. Smirnov states that mob justice cannot be justice because it violates the human right to life (Smirnov, 2017). Moreover, youths engrossed in violent riots would not hesitate to eliminate opposing forces. Therefore, in the heat of the moment, they voluntarily or accidentally cause harm to nonparticipating citizens. Among the deaths recorded during the 2011 riots include individuals who tried to reason with the angry mob (Howe & Seymour, 2021). This new wave of youth violence significantly threatens the community and those residing there.

In conclusion, from the arguments above, it is evident that youth violence poses a threat to the community and the country. Problem youth is a construct that was not widely studied until the 19th century. From the readings of various texts, youth violence has exhibited new patterns and trends over the years. Factors such as unemployment, poverty, and economic disparities have induced youth violence. Rapid urbanization has led to more youths accumulating in urban centers, which caused many to be unemployed. This phenomenon has led many down the path of self-destruction and involvement in delinquent behaviors. The racialization of youth crime has created problems in the country to date. Most people associate colored youths with gang groups and violent activities. As a result, many individuals have innocently suffered because of this stereotype. The 2011 London riots were a protest against the wrongful murder of a man of color. This represents a new wave of youth violence, which is a product of racism and discrimination. Also, the practice of social exclusion has caused youth violence across the country. The youths feel inclined to resort to violence for their voices to be heard. Thus, the London August riots indicate this new violence pattern, which threatens the nation’s stability. Historically, young girls or women exhibit a low rate of violence than young men. Although this is true today, more women are boldly participating in violent and aggressive acts. Perhaps the most disturbing pattern of youth violence from the London riots is the power of technology in violence. Today’s modern youths use various social media platforms to perpetrate violence and horrendous activities. Overall, Youth violence poses a grave threat to people’s safety and the country’s social, political, and economic structure.


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Howe, D., & Seymour, R. (2021). Over 1,000 Arrested in U.K. as Anger over Inequality, Racism Boils Over into “Insurrection”. Democracy Now! Retrieved 1 January 2021, from

Irwin-Rogers, K., & Pinkney, C. (2017). Social media as a catalyst and trigger for youth violence. Catch-22.

McCallion, C. (2018). Youth in transition. Child and Youth Mental Health in CanadaCases from Front-Line Settings, 243.

Muncie, J. (2014). Youth and crime. Sage.

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Tripathi, V. (2017). Youth violence and social media. Journal of Social Sciences, 52(1-3), 1-7.

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