The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on the public in his New Year message not to give up on the younger generation despite the "horrific" scenes during the summer riots.
Dr Rowan Williams described the violence as "angry" and "lawless" but said that, when shown the right support and love, young people can "flourish".
Describing the disturbances which swept the country, he said: "Quite a lot of the images we're likely to remember from the footage of the riots in the summer will be of young people out of control in the streets, walking off with looted property from shops, noisily confronting police and so on.
"It all feeds into the national habit of being suspicious and hostile when we see groups of youngsters on street corners or outside shops and bus shelters.
"We walk a bit more quickly and hope we can pass without some sort of confrontation.
"The events of the summer were certainly horrific. They showed us a face of our society we don't like to think about - angry, destructive, lawless."
He said those involved were a minority and most young people shared the "general feeling of dismay at this behaviour".
He praised charities such as Kids' Company in south London for providing support and role models to enable youngsters to develop.
"When you see the gifts they can offer, the energy that can be released when they feel safe and loved, you see what a tragedy we so often allow to happen," he said.
"Look at the work done by groups like the Children's Society or by the astonishing network of Kids' Company here in London, and you see what can be done to wake up that energy and let it flourish for everyone's good."
The Archbishop called on people to recognise how their actions can help improve society as a whole.
He said: "Being grown up doesn't mean forgetting about the young.
"And a good New Year's Resolution might be to think what you can do locally to support facilities for young people, to support opportunities for counselling and learning and enjoyment in a safe environment.
"And above all, perhaps we should just be asking how we make friends with our younger fellow citizens - for the sake of our happiness as well as theirs."
The Archbishop's New Year message will be broadcast today at 12.45pm on BBC One and 4.15pm on BBC Two.