“How do you sleep at night?” Reporter asks one of the young rioters.
“Easy, if I can’t sleep I turn on the plasma I nicked from Dixons.”
Poor parenting but still spoilt (easy benefits). Lack of good role models but still follow the leader (overpaid footballers). Truent but still engaged with mass information network (BBM). Cut off from playing but still gaming (Grand Theft Auto).
Is it that unsurprising that a small number of Generation Y aren’t aspiring to be a success, to have an exciting career, to build a good reputation? No.
Was it a shock to see them rampaging our streets and burning buildings? Yes, because it was visceral and it did serious damage.
Why did they do it? Well maybe because desire for material stuff just got too much too bare and so when an illegal shopping spree was sparked, a criminal consumer binge caught fire.
Maybe I’m way off the mark here, but my prescription for rioters 2.0 would be Duke of Edinburgh, investment in youth clubs, outdoor education, experiential learning etc… so that the perception of the world as a Dixon-foot-locking-grab-a-grand is shifted to one where what they want to be is bmx-riding-cause-fighting- free-running-change-makers. Surely we’ve got to try and shift the desire from wanting stuff to wanting life.
Of course it would help if the big brands played ball here, if grand theft auto were to be replaced by mass real-world Farmville. But consumers will demand what they want, so the answer is to change the demand and put pressure on the supply at the same time.
Working at an Academy for underprivileged and talented kids Ghana for the last two months has proved to me that you can produce young citizens and role models in places of poverty, but they need nurturing, hope and lots of fresh air. So it can be done.