Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The ugly side of youth

There is something hauntingly nasty about this picture from the Daily Mail, which ought to be pondered on by us all.
Apparently it shows an incident at a football match between Bury and Chesterfield after Bury goalkeeper Cameron Belford let in a goal. He was then abused and attacked by a group of teenagers, as shown in a sequence of pictures.
There are several things which stand out about these images. The first, and most disturbing, is the evident pleasure on the faces of his abusers. These are not expressions of hate but of sheer enjoyment of what they are doing.
The second is the way Belford has turned away and refuses to fight back. ‘Why is this?’ we might wonder. He is obviously a grown man and doubtless capable of taking care of himself. Yet he does nothing — indeed in one of the pictures, where a tiny girl is waving four fingers (two on each hand) under his nose, his expression is one of weary patience.
An earlier generation would have counted the behaviour of these children (for that is what they are) worthy of a clip round the ear. But what would such a response evoke now?
Indeed, I cannot help feeling that both the behaviour and the expressions of these young people stems from the fact that they know they are ‘untouchable’. The goalkeeper cannot touch them and I suspect the law will not (apart from a minor punishment perhaps, easily shrugged off).
My own reaction, as you can probably tell, is a cross between despair and anger — despair that such things happen and anger that such vileness is allowed to be expressed.
Still, perhaps we should not be surprised. There is something about the sequence that reminds me of this:

Please give a full name and location when posting. Comments without this information may be deleted.


  1. You're quite right, John. We (I use this term loosely) have created a consequence-free world for children and young people. They behave as they like knowing there is little anyone can do. Any physical retaliation in particular, no matter how well deserved, is likely to result in serious problems for the retaliator. It is a truly appalling state of affairs.

    In my area, a perfectly decent shopkeeper was put through hell and nearly driven out of business when he caught a group of children stealing for the nth time and banned them. Several of the kids then made entirely false allegations of sexual abuse against him. A police investigation followed and even though it was perfctly obvious that the boys were lying and were doing this out of sheer spite, they faced no action against them. From their point of view, where's the downside? Fern Winter, London

  2. Yes the images are very similar. Equally repulsive and as you say the pleasure of the tormentors is only too clear.
    Sadly it seems to illustrate that human behaviour, at least some human behaviour has not evolved very far in centuries.
    What to do to change it is the big question.
    This is only one of many occasions when it is very hard to love one's neighbour.

  3. There is a wonderful campaign being run on the London Underground: 99% of teenagers are not involved in violent crime. etc. etc. I know your not saying these young people are representative of all young people but you do imply that adults should measure there reactions to young people because of the the actions of a tiny majority

    So are we meant to respond with violence or turn the other cheek. In an 'earlier generation' adults would have 'clipped a child round the ear' for talking at the wrong time or getting an answer wrong. Lets not pretend it was all roses 'back in the day'

    Not sure what the law has done but the club has banned these young people for life.

    I used to work as a security steward at Old Trafford. The older members of the crowd were the most guilt of terrible abuse and hatred towards players. Here your see young people following the example set by adults with youthful bravado - we see the speck in the youths eyes not the systemic plank of a problem of hatred at football matched.

    Ben, Youth Pastor, London