Youth Culture Linked to Rise in Delinquency
Whitfield, Martin, The Independent (London, England)
BY MARTIN WHITFIELD
The development of a separate youth culture could be responsible for the rapid post-war rise in anti-social behaviour, according to a new study.
Professor Sir Michael Rutter, head of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the London Institute of Psychiatry, said the development of psychosocial disorders had occurred at a time of economic boom and could not be attributed to worsening living conditions.
"Young people have become a separate class," he said. "They have their own culture, their own dress and music and have less contact with other age groups."
The report suggests that marking adolescents off as a separate group runs the risk of reducing the influence of adults on their behaviour and increase the power of the peer group.
However, Sir Michael warned against seeking a single solution to a problem that had occurred across the industrialised world. "It would seem that something as striking as this ought to have a simple explanation and it's very frustrating that that's not what comes out of the study," he said.
Written by Sir Michael and David Smith, Professor of Criminology at the University of Edinburgh, the study examined suicides, drug and alcohol use, anorexia nervosa and bulimia and crime among 12 to 26-year-olds. It found:
tSubstantial increases in disorders in nearly all countries during the past 50 years.
tThe rise was sudden. There were no similar increases earlier in the century despite urbanisation and unemployment.
tAs psychosocial disorders were increasing, physical health was improving.
tSuicide rates showed the highest increase among young males, with rates up to three times that of females.
tSteadily rising levels of drug dependency.
tAll the major psychosocial disorders studied began or peaked during teenage years. …