GEN 312 Major Essay Example

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Name of the Class

Name of the School

7 June, 2014


Every now and then, the contemporary society is faced by social issues that occur to assail their sensibilities. The events taking place and news received right in the communities pose a threat to the specific groups of people or generally to the whole society. Over the past two decades, political violence, terrorism, human trafficking, sexual violations and cybercrimes have been rampant across the world. These social problems have developed into a moral panic within the society where their selective interests are threatened by the events. Cohen describes moral panic as “an ‘episode, condition, person or group of persons’ that have in recent times, been ‘defined as a threat to societal values and interests” (Critcher, n.d, p.1129). Depending on the panic, its outcome could vary. Some have generated long term effects due to diverse societal and sub-cultural reactions in fear of losing.

Following the incident, people take different actions in response to what need to be done to suppress or solve the problem. Similarly, others seek to understand the cause, and this is where people tend to blame certain groups for the occurrence of the social issue. However, it’s vital to understand that there is an associated fear over the direction the society would take once the expected change/social issue takes place. The young adults around the world are a vulnerable group in the societies. As the moral panics occur, the young people are best targets of influence from different channels like politics and media.

What light does the literature on fear and moral panic throw on the situation of young people and their behaviour today? You may focus either on children or young adults; around the world.

Media exaggeration of moral panic based on youth’s behaviour

Analysts of the social issues in the communities tend to hypothesis of the future of society by looking into the youths’ behavioural trend. There is the positive and negative side of these actions. As technology evolves and globalization enhances, societal lifestyles and cultures do change. Perhaps this is one of the realities that the older generation fails to accept or welcome. The society begins panicking over some changing behaviours of young people in some parts of the community and within a short time, the media report carries away an imminent case or behaviour to the rest of the society. The media creates exaggerated images of the nature of the incident involving the youths, which are often inappropriate. Cases of repeated crimes involving the youths are highly reported on media nowadays; the figures or approximation used to quantify creates tension over the reality and people’s perception.

The media overreacts to aspects of youth’s behaviour, distorting actual image to persuade people to believe their story, such that the public concern constantly heightens and result in construction of stereotypes over youth’s group and their behaviour (Anderson-Dixon, n.d). Young people and especially the teenagers and young adults are a vibrant group who would risk in exploring different actions in their lives. Just because an unlawful incident is reported in a particular area does not reflect the entire youths of the nation as projected by the media. Instead, the media help create fear among parents that their youths are engaging in unlawful conduct, which is only an exaggeration of few incidences. The media here shapes the public sentiment and encourages development of intense public fears through its misrepresentations of youths’ involvement in crime. Ideas are injected into the youths over whom they are and projects a sense of hostility by distinguishing members of the society as ‘us vs them.’ With few cases of youth’s crimes reported on media, ordinary people “become more suspicious of the youths’ group and tend to more often report minor incidents that would have otherwise passed unnoticed” (Ene, n.d, p.5). Moral entrepreneurs (entailing police, media and politicians among others) who consider themselves to be in the moral order place the youths in ‘them,’ which is an opponent position, so that policies are implemented relevant to the fully created public fear. Because of the moral panic, the majority youths find themselves in a situation, where they are considered as challengers of the existing norms, simply because of the media’s role in enforcing the moral panic.

Youth deviancy

Behaviour among youths changes over time; some of them have persisted, but others are forgotten with time. In their multiple adventures they will engage into many activities and change their characters if need be. Though parents strive to raise their children and youths with particular standards, it reaches a point in their development stage where they want to make their decisions and be in control of their actions. At a particular stage they choose what music they decide to hear and how well to spend their weekends amongst others, which is a way to loosen from their parents fixed schedules. Today, many youths have set out their cultures, which upon a particular age most of them would be engaged in these behaviours. For example, teenagers and young adults around the world have adopted the rave culture, which involves night clubbing, camping and conducting parties in their parents’ houses in their absentia. It was a thing of the past, but has remained a persistent problem in the society that is associated with deviancy.

, 2006, pp. 369-70). society has come to label the youths’ behaviour as deviant to the society’s norms. However, you may wonder what is wrong with youths having fun through dancing to music and drinking in a group. The manner in which youths and their behaviour determined as deviant depends upon the society they come from and what values are upheld. According to Timimi, different cultures define deviant and normal behaviour differently; “their cultures gives meaning to their events and behaviours, shaped by the context in which they live in” (2005, p.1). This means that at different places and timings what could be regarded as deviant could not be in another location. Societies’ behaviours are guided by their cultures, rules, values and interests, which they hold dear. Similarly, deviant identities and ideologies are developed by the society through influential groups acknowledged to define what acts are deviant. These acts are defined in rules developed, where their infringement creates a case of deviance. Hence, youths rave culture and drinking was never a problem/deviance to the social order, it is the set rules in the societies, which if applied in the people’s way of living categorizes some cases as deviancy and their perpetrators as deviants. It follows that youth deviancy is labelled social identity, which is a “consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an offender” (

Deviancy becomes central in creating moral panic within the society. Youths hang out, rave cultures and associated activities with it among other behaviours sets up a moral panic due to the threat to the social order. As a result of their labelling, their constructed deviant behaviour is not only amplified by the media but condemned in the public in order to make the deviant youths conform to the norm. The regulating force in the society determines the direction deviancy behaviour takes. With increased youths rave culture, the government has to take measures to control the behaviour if not to eliminate it. Banning of the culture, youths arrest after specific timed period by patrolling police, age regulation to the culture and fines are among the various measures taken by the authorities in response to the moral panic over rave cultures. However the policy could either worsen or act to prevent deviancy.

Discipline as a response to fear and moral panic

Looking at the children and teenagers response to schools’ regulations, there is a critical role that the rules plays, yet is impossible to maintain a required order for the school activities to run effectively. With the rules, institutions can be able to distinguish norm and deviant behaviours to reward youths accordingly. This means that if the rules are adhered strictly more youths in the institutions would fall in the deviant group category. Discipline on the other hand comes to establish the social order in the institutions/ society. According to Covaleskie, “discipline comes from outside people and shapes them internally, they become moral or disciplined as the standards of conduct that are imposed upon them and to which they are first required to conform and become them” (n.d, p.158). When children join learning institutions, they come with diverse characters and behaviours from their backgrounds. There exists moral panic when children or students fail to submit to the demands of a moral person. For example, rather than children speaking the truth, they focus on deception; parents hence have fear over the characters and behaviour of the young people.

, 2013). No doubt that a number of young adults would learn to be disciplined with time in fear of going back to the old life and harsh punishment like those in prison and juvenile deviants. Just like deviant behaviours that trigger moral panic are leant, so can they be corrected through learning and internalization of discipline. wordpress.comTutors among other institution facilitators have the responsibility to impose discipline on them. Depending on the institutions, discipline could be instilled through corporate punishments among others, to correct a past mistake and demand certain behaviour that conforms to specific expectations. Teachers, prison wardens and social workers are part of the social control mechanism tasked with enforcing disciplines among other roles to the youths or dependent subjects to solve the existing problem and maintain social order (


Anderson-Dixon, C. N.d. Has the Medias Creation of Moral Panics Caused our Society to Decline? [Online]Available at: <>[Accessed 5 June 2014]

. New York: RoutledgePhilosophy of Education an EncyclopaediaCovaleskie, J.F. N.d. Discipline. In: Chambliss, J.J., Ed.1996.

Crime and Deviance. 2006. [Online] Available at: <>[Accessed 5 June 2014]

. [Online]Available at: <> [Accessed 5 June 2014]Moral Panic Analysis: Past Present and FutureCritcher, C. 2008.

[Online]Available at:<>[Accessed 5 June 2014]How Convincing is the Moral Panic Thesis in Explaining Media Reporting of and Public Responses to, Youth Crime?. N.d Ene, C.

Moral Panics for the 21st Century. 2013. [Online] Available at: <>[Accessed 5 June 2014]

. Palgrave MacmillanNaughty Behaviour, Anti-Social behaviour ADHD and the Role of CultureTimimi, S. 2005.