Age affects view of antisocial behaviour

Megan Hughes 3 February 2014

A study has found stark generational differences in what people interpret as antisocial behaviour. More than 80% of adults consider swearing in public antisocial, compared to 43% of young people. 60% of adults disliked cycling or skateboarding on the street; only 8% of teenagers felt the same.

The research was undertaken by Susie Hulley, Research Associate at the Prisons Research Centre in Cambridge, whilst at University College London. Hulley described the fact that 40% of adults consider young people’s presence in public areas to be antisocial as “worrying”, blaming the media’s demonisation of teenagers.

It is hoped that policy makers might use the study to reconcile the growing generation gap in Britain. According to Hulley, previous research demonstrates that young people gather in public places to feel safe, but that adults often “perceive [them] as a risk.”

Asked whether she thought that student drinking societies could be seen as antisocial, one Christ’s third year felt that “being part of a large group makes you cockier and more confrontational, because it’s ‘banter’.”

A Jesus Porter suggests it is “a hard thing to generalise, but sometimes you have to do things like cleaning up vomit when a student has thrown up … because they were too drunk.”

A former Trinity NatSci claimed that local residents are more likely to perceive students as being antisocial because they “can be more sensitive when it comes to Cambridge students.”

But one resident said that she had seen students gathering outside bars, and thought they were “no more offensive than any other group of young people.”