The perception of youths as troublesome has led to the belief that young people are criminals rather than being victims. The graffiti portrays the situation of the aftermath of the 2011 London riots in local areas where people have had enough. Youth and children services were affected. Access to those free spaces where children developed a sense of belonging and well-being in their local neighbourhoods has been taken away. The message on the wall portrays the feeling of the need for belonginess in one’s community.
Within the graffiti, a great sense of fear is exposed. The poppies symbolise a history of war and bloodshed along with the colour red, used intensely within the message as an act of danger. The word ‘WAR’ itself shows that in local areas where there is inequality and conflict, it does create a situation of fear. For the people who live in those neighbourhoods, they live in fear. They fear for their children. In parts of London where there have been more cases of stabbings or gun violence, shows a greater fear of youth violence that is still escalating.
The situation of the 2011 London riots spiralled out of control when the police shot Mark Duggan. Sociological positivism suggests that this sort of tension, stress and division led to criminality of the public against the state- creating social disorganisation within society. The rioters were bound together to create destruction through the towns, creating fear as they went. In the aftermath of the destruction, young people were blamed for the violence and so they were negatively labelled and stereotyped. With this label placed upon them only led the youths to continue creating more cases of violence in London.
Apart from the negative representation placed upon youths, there are other underlying causes leading to youth violence can be poverty, lack of educational opportunities, exposure to drugs or alcohol and childhood trauma. Being brought up in these toxic environments can fail to nurture them, leading them down the path of crime. The emotions and trauma of a toxic environment can make crime and deviance meaningful to perpetrators, leaving them fearful and vengeful. There are also positivist biological explanations of criminal behaviour, for example, young people can be born with natural urges that are inherently self-centred, destructive, and antisocial.
Sociologists David Matza and Gresham Sykes argue that delinquent values create distance from dominant values by adopting sub-terranean values. They convince themselves that what they are doing is not deviant. They become in denial of their victims, their responsibility and hurting someone. The youth do not have enough support to teach them the right values they need.
Bringing in organisations such as the Violence Reduction Unit is one of the many effective approaches that can help stabilise and minimise the number of violence in the long term. One of the many aims to support the youth is by providing extra support for young people who are affected by domestic violence as figures showed 13 percent of serious youth violence victims are victims of domestic violence, and evidence of the link between involvement in violence and children witnessing violence in the home. The organisation gathers specialists from health department, police force, government etc. to tackle the issue and recognise the early signs of risk in everyday lives. This would mean intervening at critical moments in a young person’s life when they are on the verge of committing a crime.
Finding solutions to end youth violence continues to challenge society; the police; regulators and the government, families and young people. By intervening at the earliest of a young person’s life can help prevent the continuous violence on our streets, end the fear of the public and our youth becoming victimised. Can the youth still be saved from the streets of crime?