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Hating teenagers...

Rod McKenzie Rod McKenzie | 14:30 UK time, Thursday, 15 May 2008

Clare is a teenager and she's angry; the park in Belfast where she and her friends used to play in as children, then chill in as teenagers has been shut. There's a padlock on the gate. The reason? Complaints from adult residents that gangs of teenagers congregated there, they felt threatened and thought there could be trouble. Clare denies that she and her friends were troublemakers or drunk.

Teenagers wearing hoodsThe story illustrates the frustration many teenagers in the UK face today. Excluded from adult meeting places like restaurants and pubs - no space at home - they head for open spaces, friends - and a bad reputation. Hoodies, litter, drunkenness, sex, fighting, drugs - the lot. Some of it is clearly true but much of it is not.

This Saturday BBC News launches a new programme - aimed at issues in the news which affect teenagers. We've called it "Revealed" and it's part of the BBC Switch zone on BBC2 on Saturday afternoon. Presented by two new-to-TV presenters Charlotte Ashton and Anthony Baxter, produced by Amy Burton who's come to us from Newsround, our first programme explores the negative public image of teenagers - in the press and the rest of the adult media.

Teenagers are much talked about in the adult media but the mainstream press rarely talks to them. We want to give young people the opportunity to tell their stories and look at the headlines from a different point of view. That's not to say we won't challenge teenagers - the usual rules of BBC News apply: we will be rigorous and impartial.

Our next programme explores the issues around getting rich young. It's an aspiration for teenagers - but how realistic is it to make a fast buck - and keep it? We'll be talking to people who want to - and who have made a million - and lost it.

The BBC offers current affairs and news programming for children in the form of Newsround - and for young adults and 20-somethings from Newsbeat on Radio 1 and 1Xtra but there is a gap in the market for 13-17 year olds and it's this gap in the audience Revealed is aiming to fill.

Teenagers have many demands on their times, busy lives and plenty of TV options - so serving this audience with a relevant, engaging and accessible programme is a big challenge but the team we've assembled is right up for the challenge. We'd love to hear what you think...and your story suggestions...especially if you're a teenager!


  • Comment number 1.

    I think its a great idea that someone, particulary Newsbeat, is looking at the other side of the issue for a moment - for an impartial BBC, they look at the negatives a lot more (maybe that "sells") and use inferior names, such as Youths, refer to them as hoodies, and fail to cover good issues, or stick up for a youth problem.

    I think we need to look at WHY teenagers feel so cut off from the rest of the adult world, and then WHY the adult world don't like teenagers as much. Then, see if they can't squash some wrongly founded views.

    Of course, my comments are a generalisation, but then is so much of BBC mainstream news to fit such a wide audience - the dedicated stuff is the only one that looks at it, but they don't have the resources to look at it in depth. This will hopefully change the Mainstream opinion.

  • Comment number 2.

    I was listening with half an ear to a program on Radio 4 today about Chopin. The presenter said she was at a show/concert/cultural event to do with Chopin and she was sitting behind several "hooded teenagers" and she didn't think that they would "get" the point of the presentation. In a surprising outcome (for her) the teenagers liked it!

    Her point? Chopin has been dumbed down and now anybody can enjoy his music. It didn't provoke a rethink on her part at all about why she believed that the kids would be so culturally illiterate that they would be bored.

    This kind of attitude is so prevalent that it's no surprise that so many teenagers feel that traditional media isn't welcoming to them. Good work on trying to include rather than exclude, and I look forward to watching!

  • Comment number 3.

    When I was living in the UK, Swindon to be precise, the palpable air of menace came not from the teenagers hanging out in parks, but from the hundreds of drunken 16-20 year olds pouring out of bars on a saturday night.

  • Comment number 4.

    "the usual rules of BBC News apply: we will be rigorous and impartial."

    I appreciate that I may be becoming boring on this, but I have a letter from the BBC happily admitting that on one particular govt policy, the BBC will only report opinions supporting it and not opinions against it, even though the policy demonstrably does not work. The same letter reveals a clear lack of factual knowledge; facts referred to by an MP in Parliamentary debate (and please note a Labour MP opposing his own govt) are dismissed as "conspiracy theory" even though they have been demonstrated to be true.

  • Comment number 5.

    Rigorous and impartial? Does that include giving gleeful coverage of some little-known 'researcher' who claims that 'the obese' are responsible for the food and fuel crises top billing on the Health pages, whilst completely ignoring a new Canadian study which casts doubt on the relevance of BMI (and with it, the legitimacy of the whole obesity epi-panic model which the BBC has been trying to promote for the last four or five years?)

    Hugging hoodies, the poor misunderstood teens of modern Britain, may be the 'new cool' but it is the BBC who have had no small part in the demonisation of an entire generation of youngsters. And the same is now happening with fat people - when will it become 'hip' in news circles to start treating us as human beings and not merely a faceless social problem?

  • Comment number 6.

    I'd just like to say that Newsround is excellent. It's far more balanced than Newsbeat and doesn't feel the need to dumb down its stories.

    Adults tell kids they need to show respect to everyone but if they want it themselves then they have to earn it and they will be treated like criminals until they do. How many adults would accept that kind of treatment?

    If kids are failing to show enough respect to the rest of society, it's because they are becoming adults and learning to treat the rest of society the way it treats them.

    Thanks to the treatment I received growing up, I'm more likely to respond to a "hoodie" asking me to buy him beer than a police officer asking for help.

  • Comment number 7.

    For centuries and generations, the older generation has hated the younger generation - Victorian mothers couldn't understand their suffragette daughters, Hearty Tudor dads couldn't understand their Puritan sons - but this the first generation to take that hatred the old have for the young and spread all over the media - we can reach far more people far quicker than ever before, and we use it to tell people 'Kids are evil' - and this is the first generation where that hatred of children is enshrined in law, with ASBOs and dispersal zone and 'mosquitos'.

    The elder always hate the younger, just for being younger. We should learn to look beyond the reaction to teenagers to what actually causes it.

  • Comment number 8.

    I work everyday with teenagers as a Head of Year at a secondary school. 99% of children are hard working, pleasant and enjoyable to be around. But they can be like pack fear and they sense it. People need to have more confidence that children aren't the horrors that the media portray them to be, and it IS the media who create this fear. It may be that we are creating a self fulfilling prophecy.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think teenagers are a particular difficult group to study due to the vastly different stages all of us are at during our adolescence. I'm 17 and I am far more mature than most of my friends. There are some teenages who have effectively been grown up since 15, and others who wont mature until well into their 20s.

    It is obviously the bad news that sells, and hearing about quiet, concientious young people isn't really that interesting. But teenagers have the same basic social groups/hierarchy as both adults and children, and the same problems.

    I think part of the problem lies with the fact that most teenagers are adults with childlike minds. That sounds silly, but adults do fear us because we are as big as them, but supposedly less intelligent and not mature enough to act responsibly.

    It is a strange feeling when you feel more intelligent than some of your teachers, or even parents, but it does happen from time to time. Yet, at the same time there are 18 year olds behaving like 12 year olds. Everyone is different.

    As soon as adults realise that "young people" are just as different from eachother as everyone else then attitudes may change. Stop lumping us in together. Yo can't group all 20somethings, or 30somethings together, so why do it to us?

  • Comment number 10.

    It is sad the teenagers hate the world...Society needs to figure out what is going wrong with this situation.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's not that teenagers hate the world, it's that teenagers hate the world that we create for them. The amount of pressure put on young people to perform at school in order to become valued members of society will inevitably lead to the kind of rebellious behaviour which we see reported on the news so often.

    The best way to deal with this problem, in my opinion, is to stop teaching such a narrow national curriculum in schools and to put more emphasis on vocational training to encourage the youths who may not be as intelligent as other kids but could be useful to society in other ways and for those who persist in their "yobbish" behaviour bring back national service.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thank you for this article.
    It seems there's never anything good about "us" in the media anymore. I'm sick and tired of being rejected or "explained" by the fact that I am a teenager.
    All day it's:
    Adult 1:"What's that supposed to mean?"
    Adult 2:"Oh, she's a teenager. It doesn't have to mean anything."
    Adult 1:"What'd she dye your hair for?"
    Adult 2:"Oh, she's a teenager."
    Adult 1:"Why do you want to learn guitar?"
    Adult 2:"She's a teenager. They all do."

    Enough already! Old people judge us for stereotyping (which we don't all do in the first place!) with our "emos" and "punks" and "goths".
    Well they stereotype us, hypocrites.

    That said, this article makes me feel a lot better.

  • Comment number 13.

    As a teenager myself, I felt I had to comment on this blog and give my opinion.


    If I may use as an example, the increasingly good exam results.
    When teenagers worked incredibly hard and got As and A*s, were they congratulated on their hard work? No!
    "Ooh, the exams are too easy!" They said, "we must make them harder!"
    I know that personally, this reaction made me want to stop trying to prove that I was good.

    This separation of the old and young generations has become a sort of 'us vs. them' situation.
    We've all been clumped together based on the examples and actions of only a few, and so many adults now regard all teenagers as hooligans, vandals, immature and irresponsible brats - This isn't true for a lot of us!


  • Comment number 14.

    I am, most definitely, not a teenager, being 42 years of age. However I do recall with great clarity the Stanley Kubrick MasterPiece film " A Clockwork Orange". I think that ALL teenagers would greatly benefit from a viewing of the film. while Many would 'identify' with the characters protrayed, The majority of teens would be repulsed by the unabashed embracing of violence and would 'check' themselves when they found identity within corresponding to those portrayed. I am firmly convinced that the current 'crop' of teenagers is not a 'lost' generation and on the whole are solid, GOOD kids.

  • Comment number 15.

    I agree with the comments of N-Stewart (I’m 17 too). It's largely the lack of respect that gets on my nerves. The glaring looks from old people, judging us because we're not like them. Or the look of surprise when I offer a seat on the bus or hold the door open for someone.

    Teenagers have got a bad reputation in the media, misinforming larger numbers of people about the majority of us. However, I do admit there are some problems with teenagers drunk on the street and so forth. I believe this is a direct result of a lack of things to do for teenagers. We are excluded from nightclubs for not being old enough, and many of us have a lack of privacy in the household.

    Consequently, there are groups of teenagers that end up with nowhere but the street to hang out on. Why aren't there more nightclubs for under 18s? I mean, it's not like it's a niche market or anything.

    I'm fed up of the common misconceptions about teenagers, any other negative perception of a social group would be classed as discrimination. What other stereotypes will the media portray? All old people are deaf and incontinent? All kids raised with separate parents grow up badly?

    It has to be the end of this soon, and to be frank, the BBC is just as guilty of it as any other media source. Neutrality my eye.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think that many people (young and old) think, and a few have big mouths. Unfortunately, it's the big mouths that get noticed. So the small minority of teens that are obnoxious and have no manners are the ones that get noticed and give rise to stereotypes. Conversely the small minority of older folk who are obnoxious and have no manners are again the ones that get noticed, and give a bad name to all of us. Most of us "adults" (I'm 40) are perfectly well aware that most teenagers are good, decent, caring people who deserve respect. We realise this because we meet them from time to time. So teens, look around at some of the adults you meet who aren't looking down their nose at you, otherwise you'll be in danger of ending up being a snooty adult yourself in 20 years time.


  • Comment number 17.

    Teenagers are frustrated by the lack of vision,the lies and the double standards of us, the aDULTS...

    we need to offer the kids a new society,and that means Energy Independence, new training in solar,wind, geothermal, hydrogen, ethanol and biodiesels,new batteries and new electric motors, new jobs and new choices, but the Old Guard will never give it to them, so they will hate our old,corrupt little phony ways and rebel....

    and since they don't know how,they will get involved in bad cheap drugs and cheap alcohol and get wasted and arrested, and so feeding our beloved Prison-Judiciary-lawyerly-Industrial-Complex...

    I really hope the kids get involved in politics and vote all the current politicians out of office, in England,in Europe and in the USA where i reside, all of them out !we need new ideas,new options,new solutions.


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