Posted: Tuesday 8th October 2013
When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I first heard the phrase ‘The Generation Gap’ referring to the differences between the young and the old. Down the decades there has always been a tension of one kind or another, from the Teddy Boys of the 50s to the Punks of the 70s, and so on, the suspicion and misunderstanding of the younger generation by the old, and the natural desire of the young to rebel and annoy their elders will probably never go away.
Today, the rapid advances in technology have made the gap even trickier to bridge, some of our older people feel left behind by social media generation who are wired to the internet 24/7, and consequently feel less able have an influence on their children and grandchildren’s lives. We also have a generation growing up with some significant challenges of their own,many of the young people who come to the attention of the police have troubled and dysfunctional backgrounds. In today’s world, the generation gap has a danger of becoming as wide as the Humber, which is why I am delighted to see so much excellent work going on to connect with our young people.
I recently provided funding of over £200,000 to support vulnerable young people through a programme called Positive Lifestyles, which will be the largest youth crime prevention initiative in our area. Regular events will take place in the locations that need it most, youth workers and support staff will provide excellent role models and show our young people a more positive way to spend their time through sport, dance, arts, sexual health education for teenagers and other activities. I hope Positive Lifestyles will be something that will last them a lifetime, and lead to a reduction in youth crime and anti-social behaviour.
Last week I visited a local organisation working with young people, some of whom have broken the law, to give them the skills and training to join the armed forces. Ex-service personnel teach them discipline, respect and fitness, both physically and mentally. I spoke to one young woman who was given an ASBO for assault and thefts a few years ago, but she has now completely turned her life around and has the motivation and confidence to build a successful career and life. She could so easily have gone the other way.
All across our area, you will find fantastic examples of youth work. The vast majority of our young people are sensible and hard working with a bright future, but some are harder to reach, with little or no direction. We must support them and give them the desire to become responsible citizens and the positive role models of the future, but if they make the wrong choices and persist on a path of lawlessness, they must be met with the full force of the law.