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'Haywire' youngsters a sign of worse to come

INCREASINGLY wild and criminal behaviour by Britain's 'don't-give-a-damn' youngsters is a threat of worse to come, a child behaviour expert warned yesterday.

Dr Masud Hoghughi, speaking at the Aycliffe Centre for Children in Co Durham, said that the area's youngsters 'have gone really quite severely haywire'. He added: 'There is something really quite frightening about some of the things that are happening in these children's social structure.' His warning came at a news conference at the start of a European symposium on the problems and prospects facing adolescents in trouble.

Dr Hoghughi, the centre's director, told the symposium: 'We have an increasing number of young people who have no attachment to the norms and standards of the rest of society. Frankly, they don't give a damn. They have nothing to lose and they have even less to gain by conforming, by keeping their noses clean, by behaving decently. They are letting rip.'

He claimed that the distorted message being picked up from the Children's Act and its guidelines by youngsters in conflict with staff at centres like Aycliffe was: 'You can't touch me . . .' If Aycliffe, the country's largest, best- organised and most effective centre, was experiencing such problems, then 'we think this country is heading for big trouble'.