Youth culture linked to rise in delinquency

BY MARTIN WHITFIELD

The development of a separate youth culture could be responsible for the rapid post-war rise in anti-social behaviour, according to a new study.

Professor Sir Michael Rutter, head of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the London Institute of Psychiatry, said the development of psychosocial disorders had occurred at a time of economic boom and could not be attributed to worsening living conditions.

"Young people have become a separate class," he said. "They have their own culture, their own dress and music and have less contact with other age groups."

The report suggests that marking adolescents off as a separate group runs the risk of reducing the influence of adults on their behaviour and increase the power of the peer group.

However, Sir Michael warned against seeking a single solution to a problem that had occurred across the industrialised world. "It would seem that something as striking as this ought to have a simple explanation and it's very frustrating that that's not what comes out of the study," he said.

Written by Sir Michael and David Smith, Professor of Criminology at the University of Edinburgh, the study examined suicides, drug and alcohol use, anorexia nervosa and bulimia and crime among 12 to 26-year-olds. It found:

tSubstantial increases in disorders in nearly all countries during the past 50 years.

tThe rise was sudden. There were no similar increases earlier in the century despite urbanisation and unemployment.

tAs psychosocial disorders were increasing, physical health was improving.

tSuicide rates showed the highest increase among young males, with rates up to three times that of females.

tSteadily rising levels of drug dependency.

tAll the major psychosocial disorders studied began or peaked during teenage years. Criminal behaviour was most common among 17-year-olds.

Several tentative causes are put forward including family break-ups, longer adolescence, a more consumerist society and greater individualism.

Mr Smith said there was a paradox that the rise social disorders had occurred during the "golden era" of economic expansion. Although unemployment and poverty were useful in explaining individual behaviour, they provided no guide to the causes over time. Crime had risen in most societies, although Japan - which had experienced the most dramatic growth rates between 1950 and 1973 - experienced a fall in reported crime over a 40-year period to 1990.

Unemployment statistics over time did not correlate with disorder and a general increase in unemployment in the 1970s and 1980s had not been associated with a similar rise in the rate of increase of disorder.

Family discord and divorce were said to have been influential but it appeared the main risk was from parental confrontation, rather than the act of divorce.

The changing nature of adolescence was highlighted as one of the most important factors as children enter puberty earlier but are not accepted as adults until much later. "Lengthened adolescence might mean the prolongation of an insecure status, and of an uncertain personal identity. It might lead to internal conflicts and to clashes with paternal or other authority," the study says.

Sir Michael said the research presented an exciting challenge. "If there has been such a marked rise over time, then it ought be possible to provide an equally dramatic fall if we understood the processes that underlined the rise."

tPsychosocial Disorders in Young People; Sir Michael Rutter and David Smith; published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of Academia Europaea; pounds 49.95.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?