Monthly Archives: August 2011


Re-framing the UK Riots – lessons from positive psychology

Everything we have learned about mental wellbeing teaches us that what works is proactivity and positive redirection. So why, in relation to the youth riots are we so keen to embrace an illness model and attribute cause?  Sure, we can surmise and perhaps that might even help us circumnavigate these types of problems in the future, but I would hazard a guess that even the youth themselves don’t know ‘what’s wrong’ only that ‘something is’.

From a slightly different perspective it seems clear that, although expressed pathologically, the riots represent an uncontrollable urge to feel a part of something, a physical sense of community, which as a human response is not so very different from the uncontrollable urge that drew adults in their hundreds to clean up the mess. So is it, in fact, possible that we have all been busy expressing the same social need?

So no, I don’t condone it, I don’t excuse it, but beyond this, if we are to be proactive and forward thinking we need to provide a vehicle that will ensure that hundreds of angry, disenfranchised youth, who have clearly demonstrated their ability to ‘pack’, don’t turn into angry, disenfranchised adults.

Young people need guidance, they need boundaries, they need positive mentors and they need industry. This is our long term solution. It is fundamental, it is the responsibility of our society to provide it and in doing so we may, in fact, find ourselves reconnecting with the same positive, social urge that had us picking up our brooms in the first place.