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Teenagers on the loose
Opinion

Teenagers on the loose

As the evening falls, they roam in packs with the intention of drinking, getting high, harassing, beating up some unfortunate and vandalising property

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Friday, 8 December 2023, 12:35

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He's short, skinny, with cropped, light-coloured hair that makes him look even younger, although he's probably around 14 or 15 years old. He's wearing a dark tracksuit and riding a scooter, systematically disregarding all the traffic rules. It doesn't matter. He approaches diagonally, jumping from the road to the pavement without looking, and heads towards a group causing a ruckus in the street with no clear direction. "I punched a kid in the face," he says, with a smile as a greeting to what appears to be the leader of the group. The leader looks at him and says nothing, continuing with what he was doing...

There aren't many of them because the meagre birth rate in Malaga doesn't allow for more, but they are quite disturbing. During my walks around the city I watch them with concern; groups of teenagers barely reaching puberty. As the evening falls, they roam in packs with the intention of drinking, getting high, harassing, beating up some unfortunate and vandalising property. In their fleet of vehicles, motorcycles with modified exhausts to make more noise are now joined by silent scooters, a sign of environmental consciousness that is undermined by the systematic violation of the most basic rules of road etiquette.

Old-timer

I have this feeling that I'm an old-timer who's completely baffled; and I'm not that old, but old enough to know that this is not normal. Even though those from my generation, when we were kids, used to fight and cause a ruckus but somehow it was all more innocent, less harmful. The thing is, it's rare these days not to wake up in the morning and hear about the group rape of a girl (even systematic and with blackmail after recording it on video), or a fatal beating from one group of kids to another. And you believe it because the previous evening, you witnessed the attitude and heard comments that would seem so wrong in a prison yard, let alone from children. It's by no means my intention to generalise because many teenagers are good kids, but there's no denying that we have an educational problem with a significant portion of early teenagers.

Young people lack the tools to cope effectively with overexposure to pornographic, violent and sexist content in images and music, all of which they carry in their pockets... and it's all state-of-the-art. We're not succeeding in instilling values of respect towards women, nor are they adhering to rules, because they feel immune. If we don't sort this out, we'll end up seeing signs on the streets that say 'Danger, teenagers on the loose'.

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