Amongst reports of escalating juvenile crime and disorderly behaviour, it is important to remember that the majority of our young people, even when congregating in large groups, are decent, polite and honest. Recently I walked past such a group, smiled and said ‘Hi’ and as I walked away heard them express amazement that a woman of mature years had treated them like human beings. The young people I know claim that they are constantly treated with a lack of respect.
I remember well how my son was treated as a teenager. He was well-behaved and reasonably law abiding, but suffered from being treated as a criminal by the police. Three cases spring to mind. Firstly he and his friends were told to move on when they stopped by a park bench with a friend who was suffering from an asthma attack. They were threatened with arrest if they stayed to help him. Secondly, he was threatened with arrest for urinating in a public place when merely taking a short cut through an alley that allegedly smelled of urine. Thirdly, he was breathalysed when acting as the designated driver for a group of friends, and when the test was negative, the policeman sneered nastily ‘Well I am surprised!’
The police may be faced with a difficult job, but they need to remember that this generation of teenagers will be tomorrow’s responsible citizens; my son is now a professional man with a life-long aversion to police officers.