chapter  4
12 Pages

Children's Antisocial Behaviour

Let us examine the two situations described in a little more detail and consider whether there may be different perceptions or interpretations of the behaviours in question. In the case of the attack on the boy in the street, we clearly have an example of criminal violence - an instance of extremely antisocial behaviour. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that the attackers felt 'justified' in their actions by their view that the 'victim' was showing off on his roller blades and needed to be 'taught a lesson'. They might claim that they had never seriously intended to set the boots and clothing on fire and that when this happened, they simply panicked and ran off, fearing (correctly) that they would be in serious trouble if caught. Similarly one might also ask what interpretation the 'apathetic bystanders' in their cars could possibly have placed on the observed incident which could account for their failure to come to the child's aid. If they chose not to look too closely at what was happening, they may have interpreted the fracas as simply an example of youths engaging in a bit of 'rough and tumble' and perhaps even a bit of play-acting. Probably a more likely explanation of their apparent apathy would be the feeling of reluctance to get involved through fear of personal injury and hence a deliberate decision not to go to help even though they may have been quite well aware of what was happening.