“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders; they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” Plato 4th Century!!
Stereotypes are social constructs
they originate in & reflect the power relations in society because they are part of a culture's ideology
they foster values that reinforce group and individual subordination
they marginalize people, treating them as "the other"
they categorize people into groups whose members supposedly share inevitable characteristics, most typically, negative ones
Characteristics of stereotypes
stereotypes are categorical & general, suggesting the traits apply to all group members
they are inflexible or rigid, thus not easily corrected
they are simplistic
they are prejudgements not based on experience (They could be reinforced by negative personal experience.)
can be conscious or unconscious
Is this the face of British Teenagers?
What is the biggest issue facing young people today?guardian.co.uk 15 April 2009
Where has this come from?According to recent research: What worries teens the most:
Hegemony in News Representation of Youth/Teen/Teenagers Media industries operate within a structure that produces and reinforces the dominant ideology via a consensual ‘world view’. This world view is produced predominantly by white middle class, middle aged, heterosexual men. It is their ideas and values that infiltrate media texts and ensure that other voices do not get heard.
Fact or Fiction? The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) warned in 2009 that: Rates of sexually-transmitted infections among teenagers and under-age sex are roaring Children being so obese that their only hope is surgery There are falling standards in schools More than 1.5 million Britons had considered moving home because of young people "hanging around" their neighbourhood. British adults are also twice as likely than German adults to cross the road when they encounter teenagers committing anti-social behaviour. Britons were too frightened to get involved and tackle teenagers for fear of physically attack, fear of reprisals and being verbally abused .
Or could it be that young people growing up in this country are being deliberately misunderstood by politicians and headline writers who wish to use them to suit their own ends? Not one of these fears appears to be borne out by the facts! According to NACRO, the penal reform charity, youth crime actually fell between 1993 and 2001 while Britain has one of the lowest crime rates among children in the whole of Europe. Tony Blair's "respect" campaign and the national "respect squad" set up by John Reid, only reinforced the adult fear factor of teenagers, a condition the report refers to as paedophobia. Labour, spurred on by sensational headlines about gangs of teenagers terrorising neighbourhoods, have been quick to turn soundbites into actions and introduced criminal justice measures deliberately targeting problem children. Since 1999, 2,000 Asbos have been issued against young people
False perceptions cont: Pam Hibbert, principal policy officer for Barnados: "We have become fearful of all children. We know for example young crime in itself has remained fairly static in the past 10 years - it is a minority that cause problems and retaliate. The demonisation of children and young people in some sections of the media and when politicians refer to youngsters as yobs - that breeds the actual fear." Elaine Peace, UK director of children's services at NCH, the children's charity, said that teenagers were more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator: "Young people are 10 times more likely to be actively volunteering in the community than committing offences and young people are more likely to be victims of crime than adults. The media is fuelling stereotypes of children and the fear of young people. We should be highlighting the fantastic work young people do in the community. We need to do more to involve older people in the community - mentoring schemes would be one option to help change perceptions.“ Education standards have improved in both A-levels and GCSEs and independent studies have failed to prove that either exam is getting easier. Meanwhile, international surveys suggest that Britain's primary schools now have the third highest literacy rates in the world. Even the IPPR concedes that many of these stereotypes about teenagers may be unjustified. Nick Pearce, IPPR Director, says: "The debate about childhood in Britain is polarised between false opposites: that either children or adults are to blame. It also ignores inequalities in the transition to adulthood. Many children are safer, healthier and better educated than in the past, whilst others suffer complex, traumatic routes through adolescence.
Media Campaigns Media coverage of the real causes of destructive youth behaviour have received a grossly disproportionate degree of coverage compared with shocking, headline grabbing incidences of extreme anti-social behaviour. For instance, The Sun's ‘broken Britian' campaign routinely highlights such incidences and describes children in such a manner, as does The Daily Mail and The Telegraph.
Is National Service the answer? Every 16-year-old would eventually be eligible for what Cameron described as "non-military national service" non compulsory scheme. Teenagers from different backgrounds would mix together to give them what the Tory leader described as "a sense of purpose, optimism and belonging". "There is in this country today the most outrageous, the most disgraceful, the most pointless waste of potential. Our young people are as passionate and idealistic as any generation before. Perhaps even more so. They march against poverty, they set up Facebook campaigns, they push their parents to recycle and they care about climate change. But so many young people are lost. Show me a bus stop that's been bashed up and I'll show you the work of someone who has a lack of discipline in their life."
The End Result: Moral Panic!!
How does a moral panic emerge? Apparent rise in criminal or anti-social acts Often a specific, shocking incident Search for in an explanation in public discourse Scapegoat ‘found’ in popular culture Blame attributed in news coverage ‘Experts’ consulted e.g. teachers., social workers, police officers Demands in action e.g. Change in law Research disregarded or ridiculed