Behind the Stereotypes…

The following was posted by Charlie Roper on his blog. I wanted to make a reply, but as it’s limited to 140 characters, I thought I’d use my blog to put my own thoughts down.

Every young person has had the experience. Whether it be the local shop attendant eyeing you suspiciously or an adult crossing the street to avoid your path; every young person has been a victim of unfair judgement by the society we all live in.

Many argue that this is the fault of the media and the way it portrays teenagers. The media focus is on youth drug addiction, vandalism, knife crime, unprotected sex as well as many other issues that can be seen in a negative light. This has led some people to perceive young people in a bad way often leading to stereotypes and gross generalisations.

The media plays an important role in creating public opinion, and this can lead to creating policy and law. Therefore, it can be argued that if there is a misrepresentation of young people, and that the view is inaccurate, there is a danger that the policies that are created in the future will not address their needs. Negative media stereotypes can also influence young people directly. Young people can be discriminated against or treated in a suspicious manner because of the views these stereotypes have lead too.

Shouldn’t young people be embraced by the community they live in rather than be alienated by it?

Behind the stereotypes, teenagers do achieve and inspire. There is a lot that we can teach and that older generations can learn. Just because the minority of teenagers carry out pathetic incidents does not mean that a generation has to suffer because of it. A generation is being stigmatised as promiscuous, unhealthy and violent.

Is society giving teenagers a hard time for no real reason?

Charlie is an Explorer Scout and I’m guessing that he’s around 16 / 17 and lives somewhere near London (I stand to be corrected). He is one of the Scouts that attends events when a ‘real Scout’ rather than a Leader or someone from Gilwell is needed. He’s been on TV when Bear Grylls was appointed as Chief Scout, at the Stop the Water Tax campaign and recently at the political party conferences talking to the political big cheeses!

Charlie does make a very good point. A lot of the perception of young people is down to what is read, heard or seen in the media. The story ‘15 Year Old Smashes Car Window’ is more likely to be in the news  than ‘15 Year Old Raises Money for Local Charity’ for example. And these are the types of headlines that lead to the poor image of young people.

However, young people (as a total group) have always a bad image in the view of the media and the older generations. Think of Teddy Boys in the 1950’s, Hippies in the 1960’s, Punks in the 1970’s and so on. My generation was treated with the same suspicions in the mid to late 1980’s (was it THAT long ago??). And now parts of that same generation I belong to are ‘Tut Tutting’ at today’s young people.

The idea that the few will always ruin it for the many will always be true. You can be talking about teenagers, football fans, rail enthusiasts, people drinking in a pub, the list is endless. And of course, it’s always the bad behaviour that is reported over the good. It’s always the minority that tar the majority with their brush.

For every gang of ‘hoodies’ seen hanging on a street corner, there are many, many more young people at their martial arts club or football club or at Scouts – you get the idea, but it’s the intimidating gang that sets the tone and image in people’s mind. I know that when I was 16, I kept clear of the gangs that were around as I knew they could be trouble.

So is it the perception created by the media that all young people are ‘evil’ (I exaggerate somewhat of course!) the whole point? Not necessarily. Part (a smaller part I grant you) of the issue is the attitude of some young people, that they can do anything they want and hang the consequences. There is a lack of respect for people who are not in their own age range and are authority figures. Some, and again I say this is a minority, young people believe that they know best, everyone else is wrong and they can do what they want and when they want. And this is in part due to their bringing up and the values they inherit from their parents. If ‘little Johnny’ is allowed to get away with ‘murder’ in the home, then he will think he can do the same in the ‘real world’. This then leads back to a minority of young people causing problems which are then reported in the media, which is all the majority of the population hear about young people etc. Vicious circle.

Charlie says that teenagers achieve and inspire. Yes they do. Charlie himself is in a great position to change the attitudes of the ‘great and the good’ by being able to talk to them. He is an articulate teenager who is interested in getting politicians to do things for young people and their communities (Stop the Rain Tax). Just look at Mike Perham who sailed around the world age 17 – a better, braver man than me! But closer to home, the Explorer Scouts who come to help out at our Beavers, Cubs and Scouts are doing this because they enjoyed their time in these sections and they enjoy helping out. They may even earn a badge or two (sorry, Group in joke!). They are all great people who inspire the younger members of the Group. But what I do know is that they are liked and respected and they go against the stereotype. Who knows they may even become Leaders.

It’s just a shame that these are the young people whose stories are not covered in the media, it’s the minority that cause the problems and thereby cause the perception.

Do you agree or disagree with me? Are you under 20? Please let me know what you think.

District Archery Competition

I’ve just come back from helping out at the District’s archery competition which 5 of our Scouts took part in. They all did very well and they came 4th out of 6 Troops. This is an improvement on last year as they were in last place!

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One of our Scouts came first in the individual reserve shooters competition and I came second in the Leaders competition!

The competition was run slightly differently from last year and was held on one day and not over two weeks which was an improvement.

I managed to get the job of a range marshal which made taking photos difficult, but I got one of the other Leaders to take some for me. 

The day was rounded off by having a flyby from two Spitfires!

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Lending Web Space – Scouts Help School!

In the school where I work, we have a diary system which is a web based one. All members of staff have access to it so they can record if they are going out, having visitors or record any other information that the members of staff might need to know about. It sits on web space the school owns and is available whether you are in school or in the ‘real world’.

There is a small problem with it though. After around 160 entries have been entered, it crashes! Which is, of course, no use to anyone! So after trying a number of different ‘fixes’, some of which were suggested by the chap who wrote the calendar, it was decided to put it on another host’s web space.

My colleague who set it all up in the first place has his web space hosted by the same company as the school, so he asked me if we could put it on mine. However, I knew my own web space (which this is on) was going to be upgraded, so I put it on my Scout Group’s site (no one can grumble at me doing that as I own and pay for it!) to ensure nothing got interrupted.

And it works (well so far!) and we haven’t had any issues since – well except for the staff member who just came to me saying she couldn’t see the entry she’d just made for a date in 1981!

The point of all this is that I didn’t have to put it on my / the Scout Group’s space, but it’s worth doing a favour to the school as they are very good to the Group. They let us use the school minibus and I was able to borrow a projector for last weeks Pack meeting. In fact I may even end up getting a couple of the old PCs we’re getting rid of next week for the Group as well. A good example of cooperation benefiting two organisations I think!

Oh and for those of you in the know, we are thinking of getting an Exchange server in the next couple of years which will render the calendar obsolete!

Cubs Doing Their Own Video

In the summer the Cubs wrote and starred in their own video for the Creative Challenge badge. They did it in the style of a news programme. It was a little delayed in being put together, but I got it on Thursday and put it on YouTube today, so enjoy!

Now I have to admit that I haven’t had anything to do with this except for a final touch of editing, but I’m very impressed with what they have done. Maybe this could be the start of a regular thing.

Well done to all the stars of the video.

Phew, Busy Night!

This evening, I’ve been to the Beavers to talk to the parents about the forthcoming sleepover and also the family camp we’re doing next year. They were all very interested, asked a lot of questions and the majority went away with Criminal Record Bureau forms so the can have their backgrounds checked, which will enable them to come to the family camp and even help us out – result!

Then I talked to the Cubs about the two Packs that want to be pen pals with our Pack and some of the differences between a BSA Pack and ours. After the Cubs wrote their letters, I showed them the video they themselves have made about Cubs. I’m going to put it on here once I’ve made a couple of small edits to make it suitable to go on the interweb!

All in all a very productive evening with some interested parents and some impressed Cubs.

Scout’s Backwoods Camp

The Scouts have come back from a weekends camping at Consall with 12th Golden Hill Scouts.

I couldn’t go out for the full weekend, so I went to see them on the Saturday. Typically it was a lovely weekend and didn’t rain once!

The idea of the camp was to improve their backwoods skills so, on the Friday night they made their own shelters by using groundsheets and canvas.

Then on Saturday after starting their fires and cooking breakfast they made new shelters, but this time from branches, ferns and a bit of string. A couple of the Scouts found something interesting in the trees – take a look at the video!


Our friends from Golden Hill came along as they had little experience of this type of camping and were interested in learning! In fact, it lead nicely on from the night when we went to show their Scouts how to use knives and axes properly.

Scouts Banned From Using Knives!

No, not really! But if you read this article from Saturday’s Daily Mail, you’d get that impression!

I first heard of this story on Sunday morning, when one of my friends in the BSA retweeted another American chap’s comment on the article.

So I pointed them to the Scout Association’s knife policy here and I also noticed the Scoutmaster blog’s post about it.

I didn’t think much more about it. Until this morning when the ‘story’ was picked up by other newspapers. And now I read that the ‘story’ has been broadcast by various media outlets in the USA (anyone heard or seen anything?)!

Of course it’s false and the original ‘story’ is a classic case of don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story – lazy journalism basically!

The UK Chief Commissioner, Wayne Bulpitt, commented of this in his blog today, and laid out the real facts –

Never before has the saying "never let the truth get in the way of a good story" been true than the current media coverage about Scouts banning knives. We haven’t and I thought you might appreciate a quick heads up before we circulate a more detailed response.

A Mail on Sunday journalist approached us on Friday having read the latest guidance we issued in Scouting Magazine/online in December 08 and April 09 on advising Scouts on the situations in which they can use a knife as part of normal Scout Activities. He was looking to make the story into "Scouts Ban knives shocker". The media team took them through the facts and sent them links to our various documents and magazine articles giving him the following info, 
– The Rules changed about wearing knives with uniform in 1968
– We have issued regular guidance to the Movement on this matter ever since 1968 e.g. early 1980’s , 1996, 2008 and 2009 (the latest being the magazine article in April/May)
– We need to support leaders with information to help them support young people 
 Despite making these facts available the Mail on Sunday published the piece, They used a few selective statements and quotes some out of context..

A number of newspapers this morning (Times, Telegraph, Express, Mirror, Sun) have taken the text from the Mail on Sunday (without talking to us) and have run with the story.
We are busy taking all the opportunities today to put the record straight via broadcast opportunities.
Hope this explanation helps reassure you.

So there we have it, from one of the Head Cheeses of the SA, we can use knives! It does make me think that if the story had been correct, what the point of having Bear Grylls as Chief Scout would be!

In fact, I wrote about knives in July as we’d been doing a lot of training of Cubs and Scouts in the correct and safe use of knives. Perhaps the ‘journalist’ should have read my blog first.

But the thing is that it is worrying that a poorly researched and edited article can spread across the media in this country and spread to other countries. And this in turn presents a poor image of Scouts and Scouting in the UK in general and gives the impression we are no longer adventurous.

The other thing is that I bet non of the media who run the story will run the real one!

You can read the actual article form Scouting Magazine here.

Happy Birthday Guiding!

lmc-gu1 Guiding is celebrating it’s 100th birthday this weekend!

I can’t add any more than Chris has said on his blog, so please have a read.

Happy Birthday to our sister organisation.

Abandoned Equipment

The other weekend the VFestival was held at Weston Park which is quite close to where we are. At the end of the festival, various groups are invited to go onto the site to help clear up. They are allowed to keep any equipment they want or get it sent out to people who are in need.

So some of our Leaders went down and helped to tidy up. They came back with 4 virtually brand new tents, costing around £50 or so each, some fold away chairs, some sleeping mats and a lot of beer(!).

They also found lots of brand new tents etc which had been left in place, but knifed or trashed!

It really surprises me that people will spend money on good camping equipment and just abandon or ruin it once it is finished with.

However, our Group and countess other charities will now benefit from the festival goers lack of appreciation for their belongings!

I think we’ll be going again next year!

Scout Hut Burgled and Vandalised

In May this year it was very pleasing to hear that our friends from the 85th Stoke-on-Trent & Newcastle, Milton Scout Group opened their new Scout hut. They managed to raise well over £100,000 to pay for their new building and it’s very impressive.

So it’s extremely disappointing to hear that they’ve been broken into twice, had the building vandalised and stuff nicked!

Here is the story in the local paper

THIEVES had time to stop for a cup of coffee as they caused around £2,000 damage ransacking a newly-opened Scout hut.
Burglars raided the 85th Stoke-on-Trent Scout group’s new base in Milton for the second time in just three weeks before making off with electrical goods.
But they first smashed cupboards, tossed paint against walls and left neckerchiefs and badges strewn across the Leek Road building.
Volunteers were left devastated by the latest burglary, which happened some time between August 27 and September 1.
The raids are a bitter blow to the group, which finally saw the £110,000 hut open in May after years of fund-raising.
Andy Shaw, chairman of the group, said he could not understand why they had been targeted.
The 47-year-old added: "I can’t really explain how I felt when I saw the damage. I just came through the gates as normal and my jaw dropped. I could not believe what they’d done.
"I don’t know why they have done it. We put an awful lot of work into building this place up, we were here every night after work and every weekend for a year. I am heartbroken."
Mr Shaw said the intruders, who scaled gates and smashed a window to enter, stayed long enough to make themselves a cup of coffee before escaping with a digital camera, PlayStation 2 console and 20 computer games.
"They put their dirty cups in the sink but they didn’t wash them up. I have to laugh about some of it or I’d crack up," he said.
Thieves stole a strimmer stored at the site in a burglary three weeks ago, but the group has since reinforced the door.
The new hut is known as the Lucas Centre in honour of former leader Pat Lucas, now the group’s treasurer.
The 66-year-old, from Berwick Road, Sneyd Green, said: "It is soul destroying. We’re looking to have CCTV and perhaps something to protect the windows. But things like metal bars make it feel like a prison.”

After all the hard work that’s been done to raise money for this fantastic new building, it takes a few ****wits to ruin things (sorry for the language, but it REALLY get’s my goat…). I know Pat has put a lot of time and effort personally to get this building built and it must be really soul destroying for her.

Hopefully these mindless fools will be caught soon.


Next post is a positive one – honest!