Youth Impact

Did you notice the connection between Hong Kong, Chile and Cork?

In Hong Kong I saw the determination of teenagers rioting against the lack of democracy in the city as the Chinese government tightened its grip on freedoms.

In Chile, teenagers stormed and wrecked metro stations to protest a rise in fares and deteriorating social conditions.

In Cork a hundred young people answered a called to gather, masked, in the city centre to loot a sports shop. Fortunately they were stopped by the Gardai.

In all three cases, the young people dressed in black, wore masks or balaclavas, were mobilised by social media and engaged (or prepared to engage) in destruction.

In Hong Kong they said they were protesting for their future and that of their birthplace. They were highly organised and courageous. It was the task of one young girl to go around with a bucket of water into which she would put gas cylinders fired by the police in order to extinguish them. If she were stronger, she said, she would join those throwing stones.

Their parents, in most cases, knew what they were doing and sympathised.

In Chile the methods used were much the same and the protest was on behalf of those suffering financially despite an improving economy.

In Cork, it was different. The young people just seemed to want some exciting activity as part of an anonymous group.

Young people are idealistic and now easy to mobilise through social media. While their goals are usually laudable they can be manipulated by older people with less positive agendas. The ‘flash gatherings’ are likely to spread. I saw them in Hong Kong, but Chile and Cork bring them closer to home.

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