Letter: The role of poverty in this summer's riots

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The Independent Online
Sir: Riotous behaviour by some young people on housing estates has been given considerable media attention recently. If social factors play such a vital role in the cause of this behaviour, as expressed by most observers, a fundamental question must be asked.

From my observations working on several of these estates over the past 25 years, it is obvious that there are a large number of young people, living on the same estates and in the same conditions, who do not become involved in anti-social behaviour and who do well at school. If social conditions - poverty, high unemployment, poor housing conditions - are the fundamental cause of these behaviour patterns, why is it that some young people living on these estates do not resort to anti-social behaviour, while other youths are often in trouble?

When we are able to identify what the members in each group have in common, besides living on the same estate, and what the essential differences are, then it may be possible to deal with the real causes of riotous behaviour.

Yours sincerely,



Priority Area Development


26 July