The image of the teenage vandal as an isolated, lonely, anti-social figure has been shattered by a school survey which shows that most hooligans are regular attenders at youth clubs and enjoy going to an organised disco. The profile of a typical vandal built up by teachers and police in Blyth, Northumberland, paints a picture of a sociable youth who is likely to be an enthusiastic cyclist and a football fan.

Nearly two-thirds of 2,500 children who answered a questionnaire in Northumberland secondary schools admitted acts of vandalism. Most blamed unemployment and also their parents for not being strict enough. Many said they would commit vandalism again. In a preliminary analysis of 1,600 anonymous replies, Northumbria police and the Keep Britain Tidy Group – who commissioned the survey found that 84 per cent of the teenagers thought there was little or nothing wrong with dropping litter.

Almost two-thirds felt the same about damaging garden plants, 40 per cent saw “little or nothing wrong” with torturing a pet and 6 per cent felt that there was little or nothing wrong with setting fire to a building.

Most children said the answer to vandalism was to give children more to do, while some thought inflicting punishments of all kinds and having more police on the streets could be the answer. About half said they were most likely to listen to their parents, but only eight per cent said they would listen to a youth club leader.


Mark the best choice.
1. Most people think that teenage vandals . a) are fond of cycling and football b) attend youth clubs and go to discos c) are lonely and anti-social people d) cause problems for the police and teachers

2. The questionnaire shows that . a) many of the children regret committing vandalism b) parents should be less strict towards their children c) most of the children have committed vandalism d) vandalism is not as serious a problem as people think

3. According to the results of the survey, which of the following is the least acceptable act of vandalism? a) Dropping litter. c) Torturing a pet. b) Damaging garden plants, d) Setting fire to a building.

4. According to most of the children taking part in the survey, . a) a youth club leader can persuade teenagers not to commit vandalism b) a change in parental attitude would not stop vandalism c) vandalism can only be stopped by inflicting strict punishment d) vandalism can be stopped by getting children involved in various activities

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