Why Teenage Gangs RIOT at England's Seaside
Plain Truth Magazine
August 1964
Volume: Vol XXIX, No.8
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Why Teenage Gangs RIOT at England's Seaside

Mob violence is increasing in Britain. So is prosperity! Here's what happened recently in England, why it happened — and the solution to the problem.

   A TRADITIONAL holiday week-end at the beach was not to be! The usual scene of Dad asleep in the deckchair and Mom making sandcastles with the children, turned out to be the battleground for a fight between two teenage British gangs — the "Mods" and "Rockers." They stormed the beaches at Margate and Brighton. For Mom, Dad and the children, the holiday ended in terror.

Without Parallel in England's History

   It was bad enough when over a thousand teenagers terrorized the seaside town of Clacton during the Easter holiday. But this juvenile violence and bloodshed was without parallel in England's history.
   The "Mods" — in their drainpipe trousers, pastel-colored shirts, suede boots and with chromed, decked-out motor scooters — are at war with their rivals, the "Rockers" who sport themselves encased in black leather jackets and ride motorcycles. Some 600 Mods and Rockers clashed in fights at Margate leaving stabbings, devastation and terror in their wake.
   Dr. George Simpson, Chairman of the Magistrates at the court in Margate, summed up the fracas with this apt description: "These long-haired, mentally unstable, petty little sawdust Caesars, seem to find courage, like rats, by hunting in packs."
   And so the packs went hunting... for trouble.
   Other Mods and Rockers converged on Brighton resulting in 76 being arrested. The court had to hear cases of mass hysteria, jostling, stone-throwing and the terrorization of elderly people. Teenagers were arrested for carrying offensive weapons (including pistols, leather belts with brass buckles, cricket bats, golf clubs, and chains), for using threatening behavior and for using obscene language.
   The fighting is now over. The debris has been cleared off the beaches. Smashed windows have been replaced. But the Mods and Rockers still roam the cafes and streets of London. What will happen at August Bank Holiday is anybody's guess.

Teenage Gangs Not New

   Teenage gangs — and fights between these gangs — certainly is nothing new. But the clothes style of gang members, the number involved, and the extent of the damage and violence have changed — and for the worse! Nor is this change a problem peculiar only to Great Britain. Juvenile delinquency with its gangs and mob violence is a gigantic problem faced by every major city in the United States and throughout the world!
   Pupils in New York's schools have become so blatantly violent that the schoolteachers are appealing for better protection. Attacks on teachers AVERAGE ONE A DAY — so reported the U.S. News & World Report, March 16, 1964. Two teachers' unions in Detroit have asked for life insurance "in case of death attributable to school-connected violence" (Detroit Free Press, February 12, 1964).
   A representative of the Detroit Federation of Teachers said in this same report: "Teachers are not equipped by training or inclination to control the kind of terrorism and violence which appears to be on the increase in our schools. We need help."
   Chicago has the same problem. "Love mingles with hate in the schools today. And the shame is Chicago's and the nation's. Violence and terror are on the upswing in Chicago's 600 public schools. Pupil and parent assaults on teachers have skyrocketed TENFOLD in the last three years, according to a lawyer for the Board of Education... Said one substitute teacher: 'I have seen policemen walk through grade schools and frisk the pupils for weapons — and find weapons' " (Chicago Daily News, March 5, 1964; emphasis mine throughout article).
   Even some parents are responsible for attacks on teachers. As one young woman teacher reported, "Attacks and threats by mothers — many of them as disturbed as their children — seem to be part of a teacher's lot." Another teacher told about the time when "the mother of a 5th grade pupil burst into her classroom April 15, 1963, twisted her arm, threatened to kill her and held her captive for 15 minutes in front of her students" (Chicago Daily News, March 6, 1964).
   Now take a look at how this present-day society brought into being such gangs as the Mods and Rockers.

Origin of Mods and Rockers

   The Mods and Rockers in England evolved from the now-historic Teddy-boys. The split occurred some five or six years ago with the gap widening ever since until the only thing that the Mods and Rockers have in common with yesteryear's Teddy-boys is their youth and mutual rebellion.
   The Teddy-boy movement developed during the 1950s among a section of working-class youth. Gang life became more intensified — the kind of life where members, being hostile towards authority in every form, could flare into violence at the slightest cause. Exaggerated Teddy-boy suits and the practice of carrying improvised weapons set the teenager apart from the rest of society and bound him to the gang. They also developed a sort of stylized warfare between the gangs themselves.
   When the Teddy-boys began to make more money, all the chief gangs had members with cars, motor-bikes and scooters. Those who had motor-bikes and those who had scooters evolved into two distinct groups — the motorbike mob with their black leather jackets thinking themselves as being at the top and better than the scooter mob. And so competition and rivalry began between the two gangs, called today "Mods" and "Rockers."
   The dress style of the Mods and Rockers sets them apart and gives them a pack instinct.
   The Rockers, as the Teddy-boys, are also basically working-class, manual workers. The Mods, however, are middle-class and tend to be self-consciously superior white-collar types. The rivalry between the Mods and Rockers is actually class resentment — the working-class fighting against the middle-class.

The Cult of Violence

   From the very beginning, the Teddy-boy movement was involved in violence and a general hostility towards society. Their acts often ended in criminality. A complete disregard for the law became an accepted feature along with the usual adolescent rebellion and antagonism against teachers, employers, and the State. Law-breaking was part of their ordinary way of life — the policemen always being the chief enemy.
   What are the CAUSES behind this youthful rebellion and juvenile gang warfare? And remember that for every 10 known delinquents there are 100,000 other children who are usually not the decent, respectful, humble and obedient children their parents would like them to be. The broad majority of our youth disrespect authority, disobey their parents, defy their teachers, and "get away" with many lawless acts even though they are not detected or are not apprehended.
   Why are little children growing up today disrespectful of their parents, disobedient, and haughty? What caused the Mods and Rockers to act the way they do? There is a reason for this type of behavior. Few understand what it is.

Why Gang Warfare?

   Yes, there is a reason. Not one reason, but many sickening and deplorable reasons! As the Bishop of Bath and Wells said, "Too much money, no social or sporting facilities, boredom, lack of parental control, and break-up of family life were possible reasons for anti-social teenage behavior" (Manchester Guardian, May 25, 1964).
   The pressures of a society gone berserk certainly contribute to the increase in delinquency. Society is bent on self-satisfaction, with nothing more worthwhile to do than to spend time thrill-seeking and being pleasure-mad. Everyone seems out to have a good time with an abundance of time and money to spend. This is exactly the cause of Sodom's fall (Ezekiel 16:49).
   Teenagers live in a commercial world which influences them to overspend for "pop" records, soft drinks, glossy magazines and special styles of clothes. All these products cater especially to the teenager and tend to set him apart from the adult world, thus further weakening family ties.
   With the barrage of advertising and mass entertainment hitting them from all directions, teenagers find it harder and harder to distinguish right from wrong. They are more and more subjected to a confusion of values. There is no one to guide them to a right sense of responsibility. Parents are too busy following their own pursuits — looking at the "telly" (TV) or having a drink at the pub. When mothers should be at home training their children in the most critical time of their children's lives, they are either out working in ninety per cent of the cases bingo or at the pubs, leaving the children to fend for themselves.
   In the opinion of one experienced juvenile officer at the Stamford House corrective school, "The raising of material standards has meant an increase in selfishness. Mother is financially independent of father — the mother is working in ninety per cent of the cases we get here. You get a boy of fifteen brought here with £5 ($14.00) in his pocket. The parents are often not in need: the kids are left with a high proportion of what they earn, and no sense of responsibility in spending it... The parents don't supervise leisure time. You ask what was Tony doing last week, and they haven't the vaguest idea. He was knocking about in some other part of London, in dives or cafés — they didn't even know" (The Insecure Offenders by T.R. Fyvel, p. 215).

Family Life Gone to Pot!

   With nothing to do at home, teenagers take to the streets to seek what amusement they can find. This usually means sitting in a cafe, listening to pop records blaring out of the juke box. Few realize the detrimental effect this pop music has on teenagers.
   "Pop music is turning Britain's youngsters into the Aimless Ones," said top industrialist Paul Chambers, chairman of the giant Imperial Chemical Industries company. He went on to say: "Listening to this outpouring from the radio and television requires no mental effort and is a form of dope which, for its time-wasting alone, must do damage at an age when there is a maximum amount of mental and physical energy available" (Daily Mirror, June 3, 1964). And girls will even sit in classes at school listening to pop music coming from a transistor radio through an earphone hidden in their hair!
   The café or coffee bar in Britain is more of an influence on gang trouble than the public house (bar). "When young people were traditionally introduced to sociability in pubs they went in on adult terms, and their status was decided by how they emerged as personalities in adult terms. In the coffee bars, youth makes its own rules and is sometimes, understandably, not very good at it. In the pubs, the presence of the old regulars in the corner was a calming influence. In the coffee bars the presence of girls out for an exciting time is sometimes the reverse" (Manchester Guardian, May 19, 1964).
   The boys want to impress the girls by showing off their masculinity often in crude and primitive ways such as gang fighting.

Teenagers Are Bored and Frustrated

   But the problem of rivalry over girls is only one factor. Deep boredom and frustration are responsible for much of the gang warfare. One teenager at Margate admitted that this is why Mods and Rockers fight. "There's nothing better to do. Boredom's at the root of it" (Manchester Guardian, May 18, 1964).
   But why are they so bored with life? Don't they have anything more worthwhile to do than sitting in a cafe or riding around on their motorcycles and scooters? As young rebels, the Mods and Rockers — like the Teds before them — are automatically against any ideas of working hard and "getting on." They have no objective. They've got no faith, no religion. They don't see why they're in this world. Basically, they are more interested in seeing how selfish they can be. They have no interest in their jobs. Money does count, but they don't like working for it. Stealing and resorting to prostitution are thought to be easier — and more daring — at obtaining the material possessions they want.
   Just as there is no sense of national purpose in Great Britain, teenagers see no purpose in their individual lives. Without goal or purpose for which to live and work, they are frustrated, bored, cynical, anti-authority and in a "couldn't-care-less" attitude, living by the motto: "What have I got to lose?"

Broken Homes Cause Insecurity

   To understand how they got that way, we must go back to the family. The Mods and Rockers are a concentration of the insecure, unstable adolescents — those with weak family ties who are drawn to the nightly cafe life as to a drug, to hold back their anxieties. The lack of parental control and break-up of family life cause teenagers to seek the security of gang life.
   To quote from our free booklet, The Plain Truth About Child Rearing, "An undisciplined home, disagreeing parents bent on their own self-satisfaction, upside-down homes where mother wears the pants, broken homes — none of these can be expected to produce happy children".
   A child from a broken home or bad family background, feeling emotionally insecure and unloved, rejects rather than leaves home. His one prospect of security, esteem, and status seems to lie in the street gang and defiance of society. This too often is the start of delinquency. A new member is introduced to a way of life devoted to crime and "violence just for kicks."

What Your Bible Prophesied

   What an evil and rotten world you live in! But the Bible prophesied it would be this way. The apostle Paul said: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, DISOBEDIENT TO PARENTS, unthankful, unholy... lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a FORM of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away!" (II Tim. 3:1-5).
   DISOBEDIENCE TO PARENTS is one of the major problems of our day! Read Romans 1:28-32 and Isaiah 3:12. God warned that disobedience to parents would be the curse of our age.
   Children are disobedient because parents have failed in their job as parents. They haven't trained their children to OBEY them and all in authority! If children are disobedient, it is the parents who are primarily at fault. If the home is broken, unhappy or upside down with the woman ruling over the man (see Eph. 5:23; I Cor. 11:3, 8-9; I Pet. 3:1), it is the parents who are mainly to blame.
   And why have parents not been successful in creating a happy home life where children grow up happy, secure and well-trained? Because of ignorance of God's laws that govern marriage, family life and child training. The solution to misbehaved, rebellious, disobedient children and juvenile delinquency is in the Bible. Theologians either are ignorant of that solution or have rejected it. Ministers too often have not been teaching the people the truth!
   You need not remain in ignorance. You can know the laws that govern a successful and happy marriage, that produce well-trained children, an abundant life in every way.
   To find what you can do to insure yourself against the eventuality of having your children become delinquent, and to have a guarantee that your children will grow up being obedient, respectful, considerate and loving — having the RIGHT VALUES and a real sense of responsibility — read our free booklet, "The Plain Truth About Child Rearing."
   You'll be glad you did. It can make a world of difference in your life!

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Plain Truth MagazineAugust 1964Vol XXIX, No.8