Not content with tracking the every move of its errant young, a London borough is bribing its youths to behave themselves – or lose their privileges. The Positive Citizen photocard being trialled in Sutton works on the premise that young people engaging in ‘positive behaviour’ are less likely to transgress. Obedient, apple-cheeked young citizens in Sutton will receive a selection of incentives, such as discounts at McDonalds, Zavvi and New Look, amongst others, while its mischievous rapscallions must forego the opportunity to fuel large-scale capitalism.
Criticism is likely to be leveled at the message that being a positive citizen is akin to buying Big Macs and shopping at large chain stores. Additionally, the scheme doesn’t acknowledge that it doesn’t take long to eat some junk food and buy a day-glo t-shirt. Plenty of time for engaging in anti-social behaviour after lunch.
Although kids being in the cinema or in the shops is preferable to them hanging out on da’ streets, drinking alcopops and terrorizing locals, there’s plenty of evidence that bad behaviour doesn’t decrease because of a simple incentive. Other measures allowing young people to engage with their community on a more profound level are proven to make at least a chink in the web of complex social problems that make up some young people’s lives.
So remember: stuff a load of sugar and e-numbers, play on a violent video-game and then go forth and spread peace and love, children.
Image courtesy of Jim Frazier from the Londonist Flickr pool