I had a midnight run-in with three teenage girls last week. I’d guess were they were 15, 16 at a push. Young enough for me to wonder whether their parents knew, or cared, where they were.
Curiosity got the better of me after half an hour of being treated to their loud, studiously ‘stweet,’ chatter right outside our house. As I looked out of the window to put faces to voices, curiosity turned to annoyance.
One of the girls was slouching on our car whilst she drew on it with her finger. Not a major crime I admit, but coupled with their lack of consideration on the noise front, it bugged me.
My annoyance heightened as another of the girls spotted me. Instead of, as you might imagine, telling her friend to stop, she started waving at me. The kind of sarcastic wave that means, “hey stupid, what’s your problem?”
That was my cue to open the window and ask the first girl to stop drawing on the car. Far from the ‘Sorry Mrs Patterson” reaction I was hoping for, the girl started giving me verbal.
The gall of a girl who can stand drawing on someone’s car whilst looking them in the eye and saying, “I’m not touching your car”, is not to be underestimated.
Eventually she moved away from the car and threw out a Vicky Pollard style, “Am I touching it now?”
The sound of my key in the front door lock sent them scattering and squealing “quick, run”. A large ‘wanker’ scrawled across the bonnet smirked up at me.
You’d think that would be the last of them for the night. But within half an hour they were back, this time with boys in tow and they took up residence on my neighbours’ front lawn, where one girl had a long and loud argument with her boyfriend.
But I didn’t challenge them any more. Now boys were in tow, I was too concerned that something violent might happen then and there or that it would lead to more of our property being tampered with, or worse, in the future.
So they got away with doing exactly as they wanted. If anything, the brief interlude with me had added a touch of excitement to their night. Nothing more.
We saw a heightened version of this kind of ‘don’t give a toss’ attitude when the riots broke out last summer. I’m not about to get all Daily Mail and trash the entire teen population of this nation. But it does concern me that there is an element of teen society that has really lost its way.
What shocked me the most about my encounter was their complete lack of respect for an adult, an adult that they didn’t know. And not least because they weren’t on their own turf – they don’t live on our street – yet they did exactly as they pleased.
Is this really the reality of it? That teenagers like these care so little about wider society that they do as they please and everyone else be damned?
I’m not talking about the teen bravado of seemingly not giving a hoot what anyone else thinks of you that I remember from my own teen years. But a hard, ugly disrespect for society.
And if that is the case, what can we as a society do to remedy this? What can we be doing to help change things for the better?
One thing that comes to mind is supporting organisations like Camilla Batmanghelidj’s Kids Company and its latest Pledge a Plate campaign. I didn’t start writing this post as a way of drawing attention to Pledge a Plate, but having heard about the campaign on the radio a couple of days ago, it is just the kind of thing that can help change children’s lives for the better.
The kind of campaign that helps vulnerable children grow into healthy, well balanced teens and adults. That enables them to stand a chance to succeed and feel good about themselves, rather than growing up constantly at a disadvantage and hating the world around them.
Netmums is currently supporting this campaign via Mobiles for Meals. So, even if you are feeling the pinch of the recession, you can still help without spending a penny, by simply digging out your old mobile phone.
I’m getting involved. I want to help instigate change and help make our society a warmer, more caring one for the children that need it most. Just £2 buys 2 meals for a child in need through Pledge a Plate, or send in your old mobile phones. It really will help towards creating a win-win situation.
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