'Hoodies, louts, scum': how media demonises teenagers
Research finds negative stories in the press make teenage boys frightened of each other
The portrayal of teenage boys as "yobs" in the media has made the boys wary of other teenagers, according to new research.
Figures show more than half of the stories about teenage boys in national and regional newspapers in the past year (4,374 out of 8,629) were about crime. The word most commonly used to describe them was "yobs" (591 times), followed by "thugs" (254 times), "sick" (119 times) and "feral" (96 times).
Other terms often used included "hoodie", "louts", "heartless", "evil" "frightening", "scum", "monsters", "inhuman" and "threatening".
The research – commissioned by Women in Journalism – showed the best chance a teenager had of receiving sympathetic coverage was if they died.
"We found some news coverage where teen boys were described in glowing terms – 'model student', 'angel', 'altar boy' or 'every mother's perfect son'," the research concluded, "but sadly these were reserved for teenage boys who met a violent and untimely death."
At the same time a survey of nearly 1,000 teenage boys found 85 per cent believed newspapers portray them in a bad light.
They felt reality TV – with shows like The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent – portrayed them in a better light – with fewer than 20 per cent believing they were being portrayed negatively.
As a result of the negative press, 80 per cent felt adults were more wary of them now than they had been a year ago. However, the most striking finding, according to the research, was that many were now more wary of boys of their own age. "It seems the endless diet of media reports about 'yobs' and 'feral' youths is making them fearful of other teens," it said. "Nearly a third said they are 'always' or 'often' wary of teenage boys they don't know.
"The most popular reason for their wariness, cited by 51 per cent was 'media stories about teen boys' compared with 40 per cent who said their wariness was based on their own or friends' bad experiences of other teens."
Nearly three-quarters said they had changed their behaviour as a result of this wariness. The most common change, cited by 45.7 per cent, was boys avoiding places where teenagers hung around. Others included dressing differently (14.2 per cent), and changing who they were seen with (11.9 per cent). "For much of the press, there is no such thing as a good news story about teenagers," it added.
"Stories about sport and entertainment, which might have balanced other negative coverage, also took a critical line. Only 16 per cent of stories about teens and entertainment were positive: only 24 per cent about teens and sport were positive."
The research found that – for all the coverage of teenage issues – the boys' voices themselves were rarely heard in newspapers. Fewer than one in 10 articles about young people actually quoted young people or included their perspectives in the debate.
Fiona Bawden, the WiJ committee member who presented the research at the British Library, said: "When a photo of a group of perfectly ordinary lads standing around wearing hooded tops has become visual shorthand for urban menace, or even the breakdown of society, it's clear teenage boys have a serious image problem.
"The teen boys' 'brand' has become toxic. Media coverage of boys is unrelentingly negative, focusing almost entirely on them as victims or perpetrators of crime – and our research shows that the media is helping make teenage boys fearful of each other."
The research, Hoodies or Altar Boys? what is media stereotyping doing to our British boys? was carried out for WiJ by the research company, Echo.
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Chicago voter tells Obama 'don't touch my girlfriend' – Obama stays super smooth
Oscar Pistorius: The brutal prison life that awaits disgraced athlete
Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Ebola outbreak: Nowhere is safe until virus is contained in Africa, claims the top doctor who beat it in Nigera
Raphael Ravenscroft dead: 'Baker Street' musician who played the most famous saxophone solo for just £27, dies aged 60
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world
£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...
£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Special Educational Needs Teach...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...