The Federation of Catholic Youth doesn't want to downplay the looting and violence in the U.K., but calls for more focus on the causes of the riots. Responsible people and society had not noticed problems that had been piled up for years, says BDKJ national president priest Simon Rapp in our site-interview.
Interviewer: Is poverty, lack of perspective or unemployment a reason to vandalize whole streets?
Father Rapp: I wouldn't say that's a cause, but it seems to be one of the causes of what we're seeing in the U.K. right now, but what we've seen in other European countries in recent years as well. I only remember Paris. Young people whose situation is not perceived, who are faced with a lack of perspective. They don't know if they can get out of a cycle of poverty because they are not offered prospects by society either. You are at some point in a frustration stage that discharges in one place. In London, that seems to have been just as far now.
Interviewer: On the U.S. East Coast, similar phenomena have now been stopped by setting up curfews for under-18s. In your opinion, is that an appropriate measure?
Father Rapp: I'd say that's locking away and looking away from the real reasons of perspective-less youth today.
Interviewer: Isn't it necessary to set a sign that there can't be a good excuse for every kind of derailment, which is at the expense of society?
Rev. Rapp: I don't want to excuse what happened in London or in other cities. I also do not want to play down what has broken out there. But I would like to point out that you look at the deeper causes first. Of course, whoever commits violent acts should be condemned for it, this should not be the style. On the other hand, it must also be said that the problems that have accumulated there over years and decades have obviously not been noticed by those responsible and also by society, but that people have looked the other way. Now they are perceived in one fell swoop… Only in the moment when really incomes and buildings are set on fire, where it is visible, there is a social and societal problem…
Interviewer: What is happening with the riots in Great Britain is a mixture of fun with violence, greed by participating in looting and also lost morals. Where does this loss of morality come from?
Rev. Rapp: Last year, the BDKJ, together with some cooperation partners, had the topic of lost young people as part of our Joseftag campaign. We have to look at the fact that there are actually young people who are considered lost in our society, who are simply no longer perceived, whose situation, their lack of prospects, their lack of educational opportunities, their vicious circle of poverty and educational poverty are not perceived. We tried to draw attention to it last year and noticed that many of those we approached did not see it that way. Young people cannot be blamed for acting morally when their cries for help are not heard. That they are faced with a group of people of the same age who can afford everything, while they themselves can afford nothing, no health care, no sufficient nutrition. Then at some point it becomes clear. I would be cautious to talk about morals towards these young people before we have explored what was the actual trigger and what is the situation that drove the young people there. But I also perceived that just in the last nights in London this also became a sport, to go to lootings. That is another phenomenon, which one would have to examine thereupon again extra.
Interviewer: They call for a whole range of social measures as prevention against youth poverty: Poverty-proof needs rates, free education and a right to training. Support is good, but in this welfare state, shouldn't we also demand more and make it clear to young people that they also help shape their own destiny??
Pastor Rapp: Often young people are concerned, who did not have so far necessarily the entrance to these promotion possibilities and therefore these also at all did not notice. Statistics also show that poverty in education and poverty in general is inherited in our country. Various educational studies have repeatedly pointed this out. It is actually a matter of young people taking a concrete look at this situation. There is a large majority of young people, young adults, who certainly have some future opportunities open to them, but there is also a not to be despised minority for whom these prospects for their lives are simply not given due to a lack of education, due to a lack of incentives for education, due to a lack of opportunities to then also get into training, into work. That's why we say, here we must not only demand young people, but we must first and foremost check our support measures to see if the ones we offer are really safe.