Home, sweet home

APART from about an hour spent loitering in a bus shelter which smelt of urine (we took our German exchange pupils there, I think – no, I don t know why either), mine was a childhood pretty free from hanging around in large groups. Perhaps I m a bit dull,

APART from about an hour spent loitering in a bus shelter which smelt of urine (we took our German exchange pupils there, I think - no, I don't know why either), mine was a childhood pretty free from hanging around in large groups.

Perhaps I'm a bit dull, but I spent my evenings as a teenager talking, listening to music or watching a video, either at my parents' house or at a friend's.

These are not exactly rock 'n' roll ways to spend Friday and Saturday nights but at the time (and in fact, even now, except I do it in my own house) they seemed quite good fun.

My thinking has always been that surely it's better to be inside in the warm/dry/on a comfortable seat, with a good supply of snacks and soft drinks, than standing around in a park somewhere.


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Yet increasingly, loitering seems to be the thing to do.

Hitchin Police are currently worried about youngsters, some as young as 13, gathering up on Windmill Hill on a Friday night, getting drunk and, unfortunately, becoming victims of robberies and assaults.

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Some nights there are up to 400 youngsters there and those who are drinking are making themselves vulnerable to crime.

The police's position on this is that they don't necessarily mind them gathering as they've got to go somewhere, but clearly they want them to remain within the law.

I think my own position is rather less tolerant, and more along the lines of don't they have homes to go to?

At least the weather is nice at the moment, I suppose, but these youngsters aren't necessarily there for the fresh air, and I genuinely fail to see what the attraction is, especially with the risk of crime.

Surely a nice DVD in the comfort of home would be infinitely preferable?

Everyone always harps on about how youngsters hang around like this because they've got nowhere else to go.

Well, you know what? I didn't have anywhere to go either, that's why I stayed at home.

I don't think we need endless youth projects to keep them entertained - in my experience the teenagers involved aren't always that grateful anyway - what we need is for youngsters to accept their fates.

Until they're 18 there's pretty much naff all to do outside the house.

But I'm guessing quite a few of them, what with X-boxes, PSPs, DVD players and the internet, have more than enough to keep them entertained, and that's even without just having a good old-fashioned chat.

It's diverting essential police resources to have to look after these youngsters, and I really think it would be better all round if they just stayed at home.

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