MORE must be done to combat ageism, says a Huddersfield youth charity.
Its concerns follow the release of a government report which said age-related discrimination and stereotyping remains “firmly embedded” in British society.
And with one in three people having experienced age-related prejudice in the last year, the under 25s were at least twice as likely to have experienced discrimination than any other age group.
Peter Gibson works for Rathbone, a charity designed to help mainly 14 to 16 year olds who have been excluded from school get back into employment or further education. Its has a base in Highfields, Huddersfield, and organises many projects for young people.
He said: “Ageism in our society is a shocking problem.
“We did our own survey last year, which found that half of the adult population thought that teenagers were lazy, disrespectful and criminal.
“And that was before the riots, so for many, their image of teenagers will now be even worse.
“I really feel that our society needs to be more understanding of the issues and stresses that young people are facing.
“There is a lack of jobs and they constantly have money worries.
“In every case there are reasons behind the behaviour, which are all too often ignored.
“The decline of family life is having a massive impact on teenagers today as from a very young age they have a lot of pressure thrust upon them.
“Respect is at the core of everything we do and our teenagers at Rathbone are encouraged to respect older people.
“We have found that when older people come in and volunteer and listen to the teenagers, they respond very well.
“They enjoy having the guidance of an older person and both groups respect each other.
“Often younger people and older people are very sceptical of one another, but when we work together it is a joy to see those barriers come down and the suspicions between the age groups disappear.
“We need to tackle this problem of ageism, and we need to improve attitudes toward the younger generations.”
Ageism against people aged 70 or older was also frequent but in general they were perceived in a more positive light than those in their 20s – as they had higher moral standards and levels of competency.