Whenever we hear about ageism, it’s always because people past about 50 find it difficult to find a job, because they’re going to be retiring fairly soon and the company considering hiring them wants somebody more long-term. But this is only one very small part of it.
I always used to be fairly active promoting young people’s rights. Every week you’d see headlines in the newspapers and Tory scaremongering propaganda on TV showing the world being destroyed by “hoodies” and “gangs of youths”. More and more, older people are getting intimidated by young people on the streets, even though they personally haven’t been on the receiving end of an attack by them, nor have they probably even seen it happen to someone else. In all likeliness the ‘kids on the streets’ (as if that’s a crime or something) are just hanging out with their friends. It’s all in their heads because of images in the media. The division between people of different ages has never been higher in this country.
Now in response to this, shopkeepers have started taking precautions against youth crime. Signs outside shops saying things like “only 2 under-18’s in the shop at a time” are commonplace, and some (admittedly very few) places even ban all young people altogether! Now I wonder, if we substituted “young people” with “black people” in this situation, would it not be considered discriminatory? I’m sure it would by almost everyone.
Now in the last couple of years, a new “weapon” against youth crime has been unveiled, which is being called the ‘Mosquito‘. It’s basically a box on a wall which emits a high frequency noise which only under-25’s can hear, so loud that it forces them to leave the area. This is blatant discrimination. It does not differentiate between young people who are causing trouble and other young people who may just happen to be in the area. Again, if a similar device were made which did the same kind of thing to black people, or women, would there not be uproar? Yes there undoubtedly would.
I’m not denying that there’s a problem with youth crime, but the way to tackle it is not to discriminate against all young people. Remember when institutionalised racism was commonplace in the 70’s and 80’s, things like the ‘sus laws‘ (which they basically want to bring back against young people with the ‘stop and search’ powers given to the police) and other discriminatory methods of crime reduction were totally ineffective, and just increased crime in the black communities as they became disillusioned with society, leading to the 1981 riots. This is exactly what will happen if we continue to treat our young people like criminals, just for being young.