Political radicalism of adolescents

Political radicalism of adolescents is gaining more and more attention. There always have been groups who are opposed to the evils of the society they live in. But nowadays juveniles’ discontent with society tends to manifest itself more fiercely than some 20 years ago. A well-known phenomenon is the ‘drop out’. As an alternative to the career society a new culture is formed in which different moral codes are prevalent (counter cultures). On the one hand only a minority of adolescents radicalize in this way while the rest tend to adapt themselves to the existing society without too many problems. On the other hand there are some circumstances in society that make it far more difficult for young persons to maintain high standards. For example in a typical modern family the members have learned to deal with each other in an unauthori-tarian manner.

Adolescents expect to find such attitudes also outside the family boundaries, but become disillusioned when if fail to find them.


Delinquency may range from persistent truancy, under-age drinking and running away from home, to more serious offences such as theft, damage to property, sex offences, assault and, rarely, homicide. Delinquent adolescents tend to come from large families, from broken families or from homes in which the parents are of a cold, punitive nature and offer little or no affection to their children. They may have a history of truancy and bad behaviour at school. A family history of trouble with the law is also a pointer to impending delinquency.

Adolescent delinquency can be of a gradual or sudden onset. The latter, which is less common, can be caused by something going ‘snap’ following excessive discipline and repression. It can also occur as a result of boredom in school where the child is much brighter or much less intelligent than his or her classmates. Gradual delinquency is likely to occur where person- ality or behaviour problems have been apparent since a very young age. The child may have been naughty at school as well as at home, and the problems have worsened with age. Among the possible contributory causes are poor home conditions, parental neglect and indifference, lack of moral education, lack of facilities for positive recreation, a broken home, and over-harsh discipline at home and school. An inadequate personality can contribute to delinquency when the child cannot come to terms with doing badly in school subjects or games. Overambi-tious parents may be partly to blame for this sort of delinquency.

Even where career opportunities are limited, the adult world must help to provide an adequate choice of purposeful activies for the maturing adolescent. By doing this, adults – parents or otherwise – can encourage young people to develop socially into well-adjusted and productive members of society.