Young people today don’t know the difference between right and wrong.
This is something that we hear said quite often.
Certain sections of the media, in particular, would have us all believe this to be beyond question.
The problem is that – in our experience, at least – it simply isn’t the case.
Some young people don’t know the difference between right and wrong, but this is something that could be said about all sections of society, regardless of their age. Like most sweeping generalisations, this is a belief that is flawed from the outset.
Back in January, when Alan Barnes, a disabled pensioner, was attacked outside his home in Gateshead, much was said and written about young people and their perceived lack of principles.
Young people. Youths. Teenagers. Tearaways. The inference was as clear as it was misguided.
The man responsible turned out to be far beyond his teenage years – older, in fact, than 21-year-old Katie Cutler, whose astonishing fundraising campaign raised more than £300,000 for Mr Barnes.
Young and old, the response to the incident was, overwhelmingly, sympathetic.
Young and old, the difference between right and wrong couldn’t have been more clear.
Tempting as it might seem, not all of society’s ills can be blamed on young people.
Crime isn’t an age-related activity – far from it, in fact.
Indeed, recent items of prominence on the news agenda suggest young people are more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators.
The response to the attack on Mr Barnes demonstrated the good nature of people. Young people played their part in this. That must not be overlooked.
Here at CPUK, we see many young people and the vast majority do understand the difference between right and wrong.
These are young people who have good hearts. Young people who care. Young people with compassion. Young people who are damaged by assertions such as that made at the top of this blog post.
Young people were as shocked as anyone by what happened in Gateshead in January, make no mistake about it. To point a finger at an entire generation, whilst an age-old occupation, is as unfair as it is errant.
Young people, in our considered opinion, tend to get a raw deal.
Their reputations tarred, their names blackened, they’re an easy target, someone to blame.
Yet amongst the younger generation, drug and alcohol use is falling, so too crime and in the main, young people up and down the UK are doing good and demonstrating behaviours that couldn’t be more positive.
That doesn’t sell newspapers, we do understand that.
But for the record, lest no-one else stands for them, young people, by and large, do know the difference between right and wrong.