Young people and gangs

Adolescents find themselves waiting to abandon childhood and direction by adults for the supposed freedoms of the adult world. When they become impatient they sometimes damage themselves was well as others. With successive raisings of the school-leaving age, this stage in their lives has been prolonged and the difficulties associated with it have increased.
There are concerns now about the rise in the number of pupils excluded from schools: some, it is suggested, in order to rid schools of troublesome pupils whose performance in public examinations will reflect badly on the school’s standing in league tables. However, where  heads know of violent or disruptive pupils they have a duty to parents to see that other children are not harmed or disadvantaged by the presence of such children whose influence is pernicious in an enclosed community such as a school. For a school to see the back of such pupils is doubly advantageous for such children are more likely to perform badly in examinations.
Out of school there is nowhere for adolescents to occupy their time legally and constructively, except where parents undertake the demands of home-schooling, a most unlikely outcome for excluded pupils. It should be no surprise that the criminal world recruits apprentices from this group. These young people are looking for friendly adults to initiate them into an adult world, rather than corral them, as do their teachers, with other resentful adolescents who will foment further bad behaviour, rather like the  prisoners of war whose antics we once admired. Their situation is worsened by the world of advertising which treats adolescents and children as though they are adults with adult choices, in order to access their parents’ pockets.
Instead of waiting for adolescents to grab the first step towards adulthood that presents itself, often illegal or harmful, allow them a first, real adult choice at fourteen; find a job or training with responsible adults and you may leave school. Involve charities and uniformed organisations and any means that will allow them to engage with the real responsibilities of adult life. That is the way to keep vulnerable adolescents out of gangs; give them a stake in the world of real adults.

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