Kevin and Perry are on the prowl

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
Harry Enfield's television portrayal of the disaffected teenager who claims everything is "boring" is not far off the mark.

Young teenagers would far rather hang about the streets chatting than be drawn into an official youth club, according to a Dialogue Youth Unit survey of more than 1,500 secondary pupils in Clackmannanshire.

The authority cautions against assuming that more sports and arts activities will necessarily take 12-15s off the streets. Almost one in two (46 per cent) said that their top pastime was being on the streets. Only one in 10 used a youth club.

And the reason they do not fancy organised activities is because - "they are boring". If their friends wouldn't go, neither would they.

Guides and Scouts are rated as "boring", as are youth zones, computer clubs, church groups and any kind of political action. Only around one in five wants more involvement in decision-making.

The council's learning and leisure committee was told this week: "Organised activities appear to have little attraction for a substantial proportion of our young people. While this does not argue for doing nothing, nor for playing down the importance of making opportunities available for those who do wish to participate in organised activities, it does caution against assumptions that offering increased levels of activity will have a significant impact."

But some young teenagers in the authority's three secondaries and at St Modan's High in Stirling - the nearest Roman Catholic secondary - do want more sports and creative activities. One in five wants more sport, and only marginally fewer opt for music and drama. Similar proportions want part-time work, youth clubs and computer groups.

Perhaps surprisingly, what most would like to see is a sharp drop in vandalism and crime and improvements to personal safety. Smoking and drinking are other issues, followed by bullying, safer sex, rights and drugs.

In the town of Clackmannan itself, 75 per cent of young people reported that vandalism was their prime concern while in other areas the average was 50 per cent. One of the main issues in the Hillfoots area is bullying, reported by 49 per cent of pupils.

Mary Fox, Dialogue Youth co-ordinator, said: "Young people do not like to see things being damaged. They are concerned about things like gangs and their personal safety. The majority of victims of youth crime are young people themselves."

The findings of the survey, carried out between June and August, are being relayed to schools and young people through roadshows. A sports development youth focus group has been set up to advise on new initiatives.

Two more detached youth workers are also being employed to walk the streets and offer guidance on issues such as under-age drinking and drug abuse.

"Such work is not glamorous or high profile and will not produce immediate results, but we believe it will pay dividends in the long term," officials say.

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