Friday, April 2, 2010

Antisocial behaviour: Britain vs Spain

My latest newspaper column was all about Facebook and specifically its abuse by antisocial elements ranging from bullies to gangs and stalkers to murderers.

Most of the examples quoted in the article came from Britain and I concluded that the litany of shameful and sometimes horrific stories said more about Britain than Facebook. The story seems to be rumbling on. Witness this from the Telegraph today:

I then read a forum post from someone living in Spain and complaining about their area which as it happens is also mine (Manilva on the Costa del Sol).

"In the last year I have had dog sxxt placed in my garden (no I don't have a dog), I have had an ornament taken from the garden, I have had my handbag stolen and last night the passenger window of my car was smashed and about 3 euros in change taken. I need rminding why I'm here please."

While some of the many replies leapt to the defence of the area and the Coast generally, many seemed to echo the tone of the original post with complaints of burglary, car crime, rip-offs, untidiness and even "looky" men hassling you over dinner. While a lot of these complaints are not exactly anti-social behaviour - more general crime and also nuisances/irritations - it did make me re-examine my own attitudes.

I generally compare Spain very favourably with Britain when it comes to social behaviour. During my 8 years here I have never really seen sights I took for common in the UK (a) public drunkenness - wife excepted (joke) (b) hoodies / asbo kids hanging around menacingly (c) public slanging matches/scenes (d) wanton vandalism. There is property crime of course and maybe it's worse than the UK though I have never suffered any thefts or burglaries.

So I will stick by my contention that Spain is generally a more civilised place to live. Certainly looking at the papers and news out of the UK, there are some pretty vile things happening there on a daily basis. While it's true that the sensational cases don't represent reality for 99% of the population I still say they reflect something of the society as a whole or at least in certain quarters. For example there have been several incidents of disabled people being hounded by youths with their parents doing nothing (Channel 4 had a programme about this and there have been other cases ending in death tragically) ; anyone who says these are isolated incidents and say nothing about modern Britain are fooling themselves. Same goes for bullying, child neglect, racism and knife crime cases.

For the sake of balance though perhaps my view of Spain is overly generous because I don't follow the news here much. So as an experiment I had a quick trawl through the Spanish press for anti-social behaviour stories. I came up with a few crime stories like a missing girl (believed kidnapped) but nothing anti-social related. Finally I had a quick look at an English-language Spain portal and found this article:

After searching for 20 minutes for signs of anti-social behaviour I finally found it at an event organised in Salou for British students which featured copious quantities of alcohol, easy sex, accidents, disgusted locals and vomit on the streets. A very unscientific test I know, but I can't help but feel vindicated.

1 comment:

  1. If an adult person shows the "V" sign or shows "the middle finger" on a regular basis to another adult person because of a dipute between neighbors, would this be classed as anti- social behavior? if so what can be done about the situation by the receiver to stop it happening?


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