Recent research commissioned by the group Women in Journalism has looked at the portrayal of teenage boys in the press. By analysing both national and regional papers, the research team hoped to gain some insight into the representation of youth by the British media. Perhaps, unsurprisingly the overarching theme was one of negativity, with labels such as ‘yob’, ‘thug’, ‘feral’, ‘scum’ and louts cropping up again and again. The only exception to this representation appears to have been found in cases where the young man had been the victim of a violent crime, usually resulting in their death.
Where the report Hoodies or Altar Boys? What is media stereotyping doing to our British boys? arguably differs from previous research is in its focus upon the fear of crime in young people. Although, the problem has long been recognised as serious for many individuals, this report points to the concerns raised by young people. It would seem that for this particular group, media stereotyping causes a great deal of anxiety, leading in many cases to individuals avoiding those in their peer group. Interestingly, over half of those interviewed blamed the media representation of teenage boys as responsible for their fear of youth crime.
As the research concludes:
‘The teen boys’ ‘brand’ has become toxic. Media coverage of boys is unrelentingly negative, focusing almost entirely on them as victims or perpetrators of crime – and our research shows that the media is helping make teenage boys fearful of each other.’