Do adults treat children and young people with respect?

With ‘respect’ firmly back on the government’s agenda, LAUREN REVANS finds out from young people in Sutton, Surrey, if they think they get their fair share

Last month the government published its Respect Action Plan in its latest attempt to stamp out antisocial behaviour. The plan states that the respect drive is not about returning to the days of “knowing your place” but about creating – and, when necessary, enforcing – a modern culture of  respect which the majority of peoplewant. The Children’s Society believes existing policies on things such as antisocial behaviour orders, dispersal powers and curfews show a lack of respect for young people and their rights. But are adults generally respectful of young people?

Joe – Adults have a stereotype of a teenager and that’s their view of every teenager. So I am associated with people I might not want to be associated with, and treated as something I’m not. If you go out on the streets , people see you in a certain way. But there’s nowhere else to go. Sixteen is a difficult age in this sense. In terms of adults in authority, the police are more open than most to me having my own views. They are more readily open when I approach them. My parents base their views of how I should be on what they were when they were young. They expect me to be as good – probably better – than they were.
Joe is 16

Charlotte – By and large they do. They give us more leeway and let us get away with more kids, so they let us get away with more. However, I don’t think the police show young people respect. They think we’re going to get into trouble, especially when we are driving  – they are always stopping young people. I don’t think teachers really respect us either. They see us as young and therefore easy to push over
Charlotte is 17

Richard – Most younger adults respect young people, but generally older adults don’t. It is also about social status – posher people don’t tend to respect us, while middle class people and people who are less well off generally do. Part of the problem is possibly because older people don’t understand us. Things have changed a lot since they were young – what was acceptable behaviour then and what is now is very different.
Richard is 16

Tom – It depends what i am doing as to whether adults show me respect or not. On a week day, while I am in my school uniform, most adults who see me will think ‘I respect him’. But sometimes, when I’m out at the weekend, they might give me less respect because of what I’m doing, which is basically just hanging out with my friends. The things I find amusing now also
maybe weren’t amusing to them when they were young.
Tom is 15

Jenny – No, i don’t think adults respect us, although it depends on the situation. They think we are more naive than we are. When we are going out, they always tell us things we already know. We have to earn their trust before they respect us. Older people in particular don’t respect young people – although I guess this could be because we are slightly intimidating to them. They always look down on us.
Jenny is 17

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