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Behaviour in Middle Class Areas

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When I moved into this formerly peaceful area of Berkshire, I was completely unaware of local young people behaving badly. Now we are confronted every evening with a group of youths hanging around on the corner of the local shopping precinct. Hanging around in itself is not a problem, but the group dynamics appear to operate in a way that has a negative affect on the group as a whole. As the group gets larger each evening, sometimes reaching 15-20, 2-3 members of the group break away, thieve from local shops and damage local property. My car has been damaged on three occasions in the last six months.

OK, I am beginning to sound like a grumpy old man, but our neighbourhood now has a problem that it did not have 30 years ago when I moved into the area. For me and my neighbours this is a 100% increase in youthful bad behaviour. I am intelligent enough to realise that a 100% increase for me and my neighbours is not a 100% increase nationwide. On the other hand, there are at least two other neighbourhoods nearby that are experiencing the same problem - and little is done by the local police to eradicate it. I don't think the way that I vote will make the slightest difference. I live in a constituency that has been staunch Tory for as long as anyone can remember - and they haven't managed to tackle the problem.

This is a problem that many of my friends have suffered from over the years. I don’t think it is a new problem. When I was living in Kent over 30 years ago we had problems with large groups of youngsters causing problems around a small parade of shops. It is clear that living in a middle class area does not stop this problem.

One of the main problems concerns where your house is located. For example, a family I know live in a lovely road in an expensive middle class area. Unfortunately for them, a pub is located at the bottom of their road. Most nights they are disturbed by the sounds of people in large groups walking home from the pub. Their car has been vandalized several times by these people under the influence of alcohol.

Another friend suffered problems because they were on the route to the local school. Another had a problem because a small path at the back of their house was used by local youths to drink alcohol and to take drugs.

A few years ago I moved house. I took time to research the area where I decided to buy my home and ended up selected one that did not have any of the disadvantages listed above. It was time well spent and have enjoyed several years of peace.

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John writes:

A few years ago I moved house. I took time to research the area where I decided to buy my home and ended up selected one that did not have any of the disadvantages listed above. It was time well spent and have enjoyed several years of peace.

I researched the area where we now live very carefully in the 1970s. We enjoyed a long period of peace up until recently. There were a few problems with youths congregating at the local shopping precinct in the 1980s, but these were short-lived. Now (as indicated in my message as quoted by John) we are tortured every evening. On a recent occasion, while walking my dog at midnight, I passed a group of 10 youths still hanging around (drunk, of course) at the shopping precinct and watched one of them break away and cause damage to a neighbour's fence. I rang the local police and so did another neighbour who observed the incident from her house. The police reacted swiftly on this occasion and three arrests were made. The police informed me that one of the youths who was arrested lived in a town around 7 miles from where we live - so why has our area been singled out?

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  • 2 weeks later...

So the Bluewater shopping mall has banned hoods and baseball caps:


I have mixed views about this:

1. Many of the troublemakers who congregate on the corner of our shopping precinct wear hoods or baseball caps. Some go one stage further and wrap a scarf round their mouths. The wearers of hoods, especially on a bright sunny day, have certainly been identified as a potential trouble by local shopkeepers, and older people often remark that they look intimidating.

2. I often wear a baseball cap (I brought back a nice souvenir one from Alaska last year) when I play golf, when I walk my dog on a sunny day, and when I go skiing. It keeps the sun and/or snow out of my eyes and off my bald head. I also have a Canadian Tilley Hat - even better protection against the sun.

I was stopped by the bouncer at the door of a Yates wine lodge because I was wearing trainers. I managed to convince him that I did not intend to start a fight and explained that I had no other shoes with me, having just driven 30 miles from home to attend a colleague's leaving party. He let me in but asked me to keep my feet under the table.

I think that Bluewater management has a point, but maybe they should concentrate on stopping groups of, say, more than four youngsters hanging around together rather than imposing a dress code. I understand that one of our local shopping precincts has succeeded in getting a Dispersal Order implemented to prevent large groups gathering. Large groups are not tolerated within 100 yards of the precinct. It seems to be effective.

Next nasty trend to crack down on: Happy Slapping:


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I just don't understand why it isn't acceptable to some to acknowledge that things actually might be worse than they were 30 years ago, as if people are lying about it, or aren't seeing reality in the same way. It is just possible that things are worse - surely as historians some of you are willing to admit that societies' standards do change over periods of time.

Of course there are plenty of good kids around - always was and hopefully always will be, but I think what Graham is talking about, and certainly what many of the teachers I deal with are also saying, is that the type and level of behaviour is worse at both ends of the spectrum. Not only those at the "bottom end" display more extreme and overt bad behaviour , there now seems to be a class of over-indulged, spoilt, neglected middle class kids whose parents have plenty of money but not the faintest idea how to parent consistently, fairly or wisely. As a "middle-class" parent in the 60s and 70s, I don't seem to remember this class of parent who allowed their children to constantly have their own way, not know how to curtail their behaviour, are frightened of setting rules, give in to their persistent clamourings for their "rights" and generally make a dog's breakfast of bringing them up. I know there are pressures on parents which were not there in earlier times, but some parents still seem to be able to deal with these sanely, but sadly too many do not. Whether this is partly due to broken homes and duel sets of parents I don't know - the Yr 7 class I had the year before last, in a very middle class area, were two-thirds from broken or single families which would have been unthinkable in the 60s and 70s. In my Yr 10 there was one out of 30 who did not have two parents at home.

No doubt there will be people who tell me this is not true and how children are no different than they ever were but I think this very fact must make some sort of impact.

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