My life

Just because teenagers commit most street crime adults should
not assume all young people are criminals, says 14-year-old Ellen

Children may be responsible for a large percentage of street
crime, shoplifting, and vandalism statistics. But not all of us do
it, and we shouldn’t be treated as if we were criminals. If
you are a boy, between the ages of 13 and 19, walking the streets
late at night, whether in a big group, a small group or on your
own, you might be stopped and searched by a police officer simply
because you “fit the profile”. A 14-year-old male friend of mine
was taken to a police cell and strip-searched with no relevant
adult either present or informed, simply because the friend he was
with at the time was caught smoking marijuana. It’s just as
bad if you’re a teenage girl – walking into a shop you
feel the watchful eyes on you. Recently, my friend and I, both 14,
were asked to leave our local chemist because we had been there
before already that day, when we had both bought products. That
chemist has now lost two good customers, as, along with many others
of our age, we spend a lot on make-up, toiletries etc.

And it doesn’t stop at people’s stereotypical views
either. Teenagers are often made to feel that they are less
important than adults everywhere they go. For example, my friend
and I were waiting for a bus a few weeks ago. The first one that
came filled up before we got to it, but by the time a second one
came along we were right at the front of the queue. Relieved to
finally be heading home we climbed on, but the bus conductor
instructed us to wait just below the stairs. When all the commuters
coming home from work had got onto the bus he turned to us and said
“sorry kids, bus’s full”. When we objected he simply replied
“this bus isn’t going anywhere until you get off.” So,
embarrassed and angry we returned to the back of the queue and had
to wait half an hour for the next bus.

I’m not, of course, saying that all adults are like this,
although you might be amazed that no one in that bus or in that
shop backed us up! All I’m asking is that next time you see a
teenager being searched or told to leave a shop don’t shake
your head and tut because it’s possible that they are just as
innocent as you are.

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