The night I suddenly become afraid of teenagers

I’ve never been scared of teenagers. I was one once myself and I was about as frightening as a feather knife.

But on Saturday night, I found myself more than a little afraid.

The evening was going swimmingly enough. We’d put our three kids to bed, broke open Series 2 of my Sopranos box set, and settled down to a dinner of steak and chips.

And then we heard screaming and shouting outside our window.

‘Kids,’ I said, looking at my wife.

But the shouting got louder and more aggressive, which was followed by the sound of bottles breaking. And what at first sounded like half a dozen voices, now sounded like the equivalent of a football crowd.

We live on a busy through-street, so I thought these were just teenagers passing through on their way to somewhere else. But they didn’t move on. They stayed. Past 9pm, past 10pm, past 11pm.

At midnight I said to my wife: ‘This is getting beyond a joke.’

And then, sounding like the Old Fart I’ve become, added: ‘Where do their parents think they are at this time of night?’

I looked outside and saw around 30 teenagers – aged around 15-16, a mix of boys and girls, white and black. They were standing in the road, some of them jostling each other; others stumbling into cars. A few bottles were dropped and smashed.

I couldn’t work out why they were there, except the fact they were congregating around and in the front yard of a house that has been up for sale and empty for a while. And then I remembered that a teenage girl lived in the house next door to it. Two and two together = Parents Away Facebook Party.

There was no loud music. No criminal damage (from what I could see). There was no malevolence, aside from the rutting boy stags showing off in front of the girls.

But there was just lots and lots of noise. Inconsiderate noise.

‘Where else can teenagers that age go on a Saturday night?’ my wife reasoned.

And I could see her point.

But by now, all three of our kids – aged ten, seven and four – were awake and wondering what the noise was.

It was time for the Man Of The House to take action.

I went outside, stood across the road and had a good, long stare at the protagonists.

One-to-one, I could see that they would all be nice kids. But they were drunk and lairy. They had that look about them that even if I’d been ‘Excuse Me, Lads, But Would You Mind Keeping The Noise Down I’ve Got Kids In Bed’ reasonable, at least one, and probably more, would have felt the need to tell me to go procreate with myself as a way of showing off to their peers.

As I weighed up the situation, I remembered newspaper headlines of dads asking lads to Keep The Noise Down, and paying for it with their lives. I remembered a story last week of a young man who asked some other men to stop vandalising a street bin. And ending up paying for it with his life.

So instead of Getting Involved, I found myself Backing Away. I began to reason that if no other neighbours were being bothered by this rabble, then why was I?

And ultimately, I concluded, I was actually rather scared – afraid of the kind of boys I once was and no doubt the kind of boys my sons will one day become.

I went back inside and turned the volume up as Tony Soprano beat the daylights out of someone who had wronged him. And I couldn’t help thinking: ‘What would HE have done?’

13 Comments

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13 Responses to The night I suddenly become afraid of teenagers

  1. I can relate to this 100% we moved house because of antisocial teens…. :(

  2. Floozy

    I’m even more of a scaredy cat, but isn’t this what the police are for?

  3. I agree with Floozy, next time call the police – out of concern for the teenagers of course, not to complain like a grumpy old man.

  4. This is such a difficult one and I do believe you were right to be wary as the way a child would behave when alone is very different to when they are in a large group and have been drinking. I would have called the police, it might be worth checking of there’s a community support number for your area, we live in a studenty city and have a special number to call for this type of incident.

  5. I’m glad you didn’t intervene. Individual sense and mores can evaporate in a crowd, especially a drunken one. We had this a few months ago. 30 plus teenagers, all dressed in Hallowen outfits, surging up and down the road outside our house, roaring like wildebeest and smashing glasses on the kerb. We had the summer riots on our doorstep and, still unnerved by what youth en masse can do, we called the police.

  6. We’ve had similar before we moved (the anti-social behaviour wasn’t the reason for the move) and even when my husband was in I have called the police to come out and deal with it.

    Unfortunately I think you were right to not get involved or say anything. A large group of teenagers, drunken ones at that, is a very scary prospect for most people these days. Even my friend (who is a copper) gets scared when she’s off duty.

  7. It’s hard. I’m prone to speaking up because I think that more people need to. But everytime I do, my partner has a fit and tells me it’s not worth putting my life at risk. I understand his point but although there are some people who would have no problem bringing out a knife all that I’ve come across have glared, maybe sworn but normally grumbled and walked off.
    I’ve promised him to stop intervening as it got him so worked up but I think its a crying shame that it has to be this way

  8. As the parent of teens, I find this type of behaviour inexcusable. As far as we’re concerned yes, our 16 year old can go out if he’s got somewhere to go (and we know where that somewhere is, and that he’ll be safe there) but roaming the streets? No. Totally unacceptable and, as you say, more than a little scary. I’d be with those who say call the police, I’m afraid.

  9. I don’t think you were afraid of teenagers, you were simplybeing wary of the consequences of intervening. Who knows what that crowd had been ingesting, making themselves feel invincible? It’s extremely annoying and even the most magnanimous “well, we were kids once” attitude fades eventually, but you did the right thing.

  10. You make a really good point. I’ve been a bit bolshy with the teenagers in my street who have miffed me off with their behaviour lately, I should probably be more cautious in the arguments that I pick.

    And like HuN said, I don’t think you were being scared either, just could see that your children’s need of you was more important than telling a few kids off.

  11. I agree with Corrine. Until recently I lived opposite a park which was a magnet for every teenager in the area every weekend and many other nights too. Residents met with local police teams and were given a mobile number for the community support officers who would disperse them. They also looked at the bigger picture, sending plain clothes officers in to catch the local off-licenses selling them booze. It improved dramatically. Let’s hope yours is a one off and not a regular occurrence.

  12. Carl

    Hello Sir. I too have a fear of teenagers.
    The cause was bullying in school.

    I presently live in a apartment area
    where sometimes noisy older children
    and teenagers roam and play.

    A few years ago, 2011, summer, there
    was a lot of noisy teen – parties in
    our area. Now i am so “lucky” to
    have two teenage boys in the 20s
    in the apartment next door.

    They have jobs, but ufortunately
    the maturiy level is debatable.

    From day one when they moved
    in thy had a rowdy party without
    telling us.

    There are loud door slamming,
    loud talking sometimes
    they yell like idiots.

    In the summer they often have
    barbeque parties with up 3 – 4
    teenagers, and they always blast
    their loud hip hop gangsta music.

    I have anxiety because of teenagers
    and do not have a job. Redundant me 2.

    But i try to keep myself occupied somehow.

    And take a walk, despite anxiety
    if there is too much noise next door.

    I have had this problem with noisy
    teen neighbors for many years. The
    only solution would be to move but
    lack of money does not permit it.

    Could this be a sort of karma lesson?

    I don`t know. Just trying to get by.

    Take care.