'Rude' kids get TV voice

8th October 2004 at 01:00
Steph Bignan-Sarkas understands why some people might think she is a hooligan.

"Most crimes are committed by teenagers," the 19-year-old said. "So we are treated unfairly, because of our age. I don't like drinking that much, and I don't see the point of clubbing. I'm pretty boring. But everyone judges everyone. That's just the way people are."

Steph is one of six teenagers to be featured in Rude Britannia, a new, five-part documentary series on Channel 4. Each programme tells the story of young people whose behaviour has been labelled anti-social by adults.

Dave Nath, executive producer, hopes to start a debate about bad behaviour.

"We wanted to give teenagers a voice, in a climate where they are labelled by adult perceptions," he said. "We're looking at the root causes of bad behaviour. But we also wanted to ask, has teenagers' behaviour deteriorated? Or are we less tolerant than we used to be?"

Ben Ford, 15, blames adult intolerance for 11 teenagers in his Staffordshire village getting anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) this summer. "The worst that's happened here is that someone set fire to the Yellow Pages. We just hang out on the park bench, talk and play footie.

Extreme. But we're an easy target."

Steph, who is followed by the camera "car cruising" in a convoy with her friends, believes that threatening teenagers makes adults feel more secure.

"Threatening us with Asbos makes adults feel better," she said. "But it just makes us more rebellious. A lot of people only have bad attitudes towards the police because of the threats they make."

The series also highlights the prejudice encountered by Benji Palmer, 18, who attends college in south London. "People think I'm anti-social, because I wear tracksuits and trainers," he said. "But adults should be talking to teenagers. We learn from our mistakes, and we all grow up. A lot of adults forget they were teenagers once."

Rude Britannia begins on October 18 on Channel 4

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