Young people are often seen through the narrow vision of the media. But are we trusted by the public?
To give an example, I want you to picture the scene. I’m standing at a bus stop waiting for the next bus to the university, when an old lady who required the use of a walking stick trips in the gutter. I immediately rushed to her aid, to help her back on her feet, to find out if she was still ok and to do the daily good turn I had promised when I was a Scout. Naturally, I was not the only one who reacted: several others looked concerned and another elderly lady came to help. However, whilst assisting her, I heard the shouting of a man telling us all to “leave her alone”. My initial reaction was that he may be a relative, but as I later found out he was just another passenger waiting for his bus. He came over, asked whether she was ok and, upon hearing that she was, promptly returned to waiting.
Now this may seem confusing but I’m getting to the point. Only three people came to the aid of the old lady – the other elderly woman, the man who shouted and myself. So who was he shouting at? I can’t imagine the other elderly lady being the target for the shouts so the only conclusion I could come to was that I was the intended recipient and it was because, as a youth, I might take advantage of the situation by stealing her possessions or something like that.
So this has got me thinking. Are the youth of today really seen as untrustworthy or a threat? Or are young people a victim of a changed society; one that criticises children when they spend time indoors on games consoles and the internet while fearing them when they’re outside socialising in groups? These perceptions are often the most damaging thing, after all how could the man who shouted know that in reality I’m a gentle chap, first aid trained and who by nature looks to help anyone in trouble. An interesting example of these perceptions can be found in the video below, made by the Scout Association last year after it commissioned a report about the perceptions of young people and what impact they had as a movement.
Its response was astounding. In the Olympic year that aimed to ‘Inspire a Generation’, and one year after riots occurred in the streets the video was filmed in, it seemed timely. But now it seems those memories are in part fading. The only way to break this vicious circle as far as I can see is this: show the city and the world that students can be responsible and trusted. Break the mould and defy the negative stereotypes that exist towards students and young people in general. Do a good deed and be proud of it. Maybe we’ll get there some day and maybe we’ll show the residents of Southampton the good things we do but I’m sure we’ll get there quicker if everyone helps.
The video’s corresponding website can be found at www.expectmore.org.uk.