Friday, January 25, 2008

German youth culture vs UK

Interesting article compare life in Warrington where someone was recently killed by violent yobs to Germany where peaceful goths roam the streeets:

ALCO HELL FREE ZONE
Sunday People, UK - 19 Jan 2008

Drunk teens still plague hero Garry's estate yet Warrington's twin town stays calm.. WHY?

It's Friday night in the town where dad-of-three Garry Newlove was kicked to death by a gang drunk on cheap supermarket booze - and nothing much has changed.

I watch as clutch of scowling hoodies knock back can after can of lager outside an offlicence in Warrington before wandering off to cause mayhem and fear.

ALCO HELL FREE ZONE
Sunday People, UK -19 Jan 2008

A gang of Goths gather in the street on Friday night with bottles in their hands - but there's nothing menacing about these teenagers.

The bottles contain water because here there are no badges of honour for binge-boozing, drunken vandalism or beating up innocents.

I'm in Warrington's twin town Hilden 20 miles from Dusseldorf in Germany. Both towns have rich and poor suburbs, high-rise flats and the same Adidas-clad chavs, sports-mad teens and anti-establishment Goths.

But when it comes to the behaviour of teenagers, Hilden is in another world.

One of the Goths, Kevin Sadowski, 17, trots out the age-old moan that "there's nothing to do here" - but he still won't be going home with a criminal record.

He tells me: "I tried booze at about 12. But getting 'hammered' as you English say, and smashing windows or hurting someone is just pathetic. If we do drink we have one or two cans of beer because it tastes nice.

"But if you cannot have fun without booze, you must be a bit odd."

In the town's Area 51 youth centre - one of three in the 57,000-resident town which runs regular concerts, fitness classes, sports matches and cinema nights - 15-year-old Sadine Udder tells me: "I can't understand British teenagers.

"Why would I want to stand out in the street drinking then cause trouble and crime just for the sake of it?

"That's stupid. My parents would kill me. And I would be scared of the Polizei."

Sabine and her friends are not the Brady Bunch.

Ranging in age from 12 to 17, some have a sneaky cigarette and all admit to having tried alcohol.

Jessica Baker, 14, says: "I once got so drunk on beer I passed out. Everyone laughed at me.

"I didn't feel good about it and no one thought I was cool. I didn't do it again."

The gang also tell of a pal who once went to hospital after boozing. Their voices are low and faces ashamed. Having your stomach pumped carries no status here.

At the Polizei station, the duty cop claims it's been a busy night for youth crime. But while in UK towns that means fights and maybe a stabbing, in Hilden it means three boys arrested for kicking street lamps. Chief of Police Wolfgang Busch recoils when told about Garry Newlove's fate at the hands of drunk yobs.

A few years ago Hilden feared alcopops were becoming popular and set up a task-force between council, police and youth services.

It had two aims - to make sure there were enough youth facilities and to punish young offenders within weeks of a crime so they learned their lesson quickly.

In this town, carrying a knife will earn you two weeks in jail. If you have repeated behavioural problems you face being sent to Siberian boot camp.

For nine months you will have to collect firewood to keep warm, dig your own toilet outside your hut and pump water from a well.

Herr Busch, who is to meet Warrington cops to discuss techniques, added: "The worst youth crime we had was a youth murdering another eight years ago.

"But they were both foreigners visiting here."

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