Tough on teens

THERE is certainly a need to attack this sort of problem head on ( Blitz on young drinkers, September 12), first dispersing and discouraging the groups of teenagers who gather in public places and generally intimidate passers by (regardless of alcohol in

THERE is certainly a need to attack this sort of problem head on ("Blitz on young drinkers," September 12), first dispersing and discouraging the groups of teenagers who gather in public places and generally intimidate passers by (regardless of alcohol involvement or not).

I noted on a walk through the town centre a group of 15-year-olds playing an aggressive game of football on the market square, while it was full of parked cars. Ultimately, dealing with every case hands-on is a costly, time-consuming never-ending exercise.

Secondly, clamping down on shops which supply alcohol to kids is something that should be constant. However, I suspect this will ultimately have a minimal effect given the resourcefulness of today's typical teen. Intimidation of an older passer-by, older spouses, shopliftling, and irresponsible parents are alternative sources that spring to mind, be it booze or ciggies.

Ultimately, the responsibility falls on the parents to be suitably responsible themselves, and in turn, teach respect for life, feeling and property, promoting responsibility, and engraving the basic principles of a society and community into their children's upbringing. Simply being aware of where they are, what they are doing, who they are with, when they will be home (why there is a need for any child to be out late at night is beyond me) would be any improvement.

Without such policing at such vulnerable ages, children will always go one step further than the last, leaving society in one hell of a mess in years to come.

I was no angel as a teenager, only a few years ago. I no doubt did things that others deemed inappropriate, even anti-social. Ultimately, what kept me on the straight and narrow was knowing right from wrong - having the irritating little voice in the back of my head telling me I shouldn't be doing something; regretting something after the event; feeling absolute shame when caught or reprimanded. I suspect there are a growing number that lack such a voice.

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Like it or not, teenagers are children. Aspire to be mature though they may, they have so much to learn in so little time. Without support and guidance, they could end up anywhere.

IAN FRANCIS, Bishops Road, Eynesbury

* YOUR article about underage drinking (September 12) asked if there are any no-go areas in St Neots. The answer to this is most clearly yes - including the area visited by your reporter near the skate-board ramp.

Between them, local residents in various parts of the town could probably name at least half a dozen areas which are regularly the location for anti-social behaviour and intimidation. The police are no doubt already aware of the areas concerned (or could be if they made any effort to find out) but choose not to do anything to address the problem.

I strongly suspect that this is deliberate policing policy - ie provided the damage to property is not too severe and anti-social behaviour consists mainly of excessive noise and intimidation rather than serious assault - then they do not feel it appropriate to intervene.

Most responsible parents I know refuse to allow their children to go to the skateboard ramp on an evening, because they know that the remote location inevitably means that it's a magnet for many of the town's more dubious element. The best thing the council could do with the ramp is dismantle it, then reassemble it in a location that is brightly lit and readily visible to passers-by.

That way the decent kids who actually want to use the facility for its intended purpose would be able to do so in safety - and passing adults could enjoy some of the skills that these youngsters develop.

CHRIS HUGHES, Burwell Road, Eaton Socon

* YOU refer to underage drinking, and not long ago an article appeared about the Priory Centre coming to an end so the land could be used for luxury flats.

So what have we got? There are huge numbers of young people with very few leisure facilities on offer - one swimming pool (why not another like the Oasis in Bedford?) Why not more indoor and outdoor sports facilities (the ones we have look old and worn out) and a cinema, which seems to be a dirty word to the powers that be. How about KFC, Pizza Hut or McDonalds? The kids would love it.

As to the ramp on the Riverside, it was built as far from town as possible, with very little light or security. People can't be bothered with it really. So what did they expect?

Don't keep building houses everywhere and selling us as a commuter town. We want alternatives to drink and drugs for our young people, so give us facilities. Of course it costs money. Borrow it from Huntingdonshire District Council, which has plenty.

The young are the future. Let's get positive and look after them.

Mrs RAMONA WEBB, Manor Farm Road, St Neots