Time to nip this scourge in the bud

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No-one can deny that anti-social behaviour is a serious problem in the North West. It blights people’s lives, destroys families and ruins communities.

Neither is it a hysterical invention of the press. Quite the opposite, in fact - anti-social behaviour is very real and it’s a regular and depressing feature of modern life across the region.

Anti-social behaviour means different things to different people. Graffiti in public spaces and on public transport, drunken loutish behaviour, teenagers apparently in charge of the streets, rubbish or litter lying around, abandoned and burned out cars, vandalism and damage to property, people being attacked and harassed, people using or dealing drugs, or living next door to the “neighbours from hell” - all serve to undermine the fabric of society.

Young people are often seen as causing the problems, but they are often the victims, too. They are vulnerable to being harassed by young gangs or into joining them and being drawn into damaging and dangerous behaviour.

Indeed, the evidence suggests that young people involved in anti-social behaviour are at high risk of moving on to more serious forms of criminality.

While there are no easy or, indeed, quick solutions, the level of violence in society, in general, and on our television screens, in particular, seems to have anaesthetised many into accepting what only some years ago we would have condemned as shocking.

To hear of someone getting a “good kicking” doesn’t seem to register anymore as being a particularly horrific, or even potentially fatal, form of assault.

Granted, anti-social behaviour is nothing new to Derry but what is new is the spiralling regularity of it.

One thing is for certain, however - something needs to be done to nip this scourge in the bud without delay.