Since the pandemic began, at least four waves of criminalization of youth have occurred. The first took place last summer, when the de-escalation started after confinement. At that time, we observed at the media level an interest in those images and news that blamed the youth for the pandemic not being under control and, of course, for the outbreaks of COVID-19.
The fault was those young and wild people who, after being stuck at home for so long, went out into the streets in a wild way, wanting to party and without respecting security measures. That was the image that was transferred from the media powers of one of the groups that suffered the most from the quarantine, later, obviously, of the victims and their loved ones, of health and essential personnel, and of people in special situations of vulnerability.
I speak in terms of youth, but we can include other stages such as childhood and adolescence, which are crucial periods of life in which personality, social relationships are built, and much of the time is spent in educational centers with peers. Confinement upset everything, educationally and socially. It also disrupted the mental health of many. But the impact of the pandemic on these groups and the conditioning that everything they have experienced supposes for their future was hardly reported, nor is it reported. On the contrary, at that time the focus began to be placed on specific irresponsible behaviors in the face of measures to avoid contagions, feeding the idea of youth as a homogeneous group that puts the health of the population as a whole at risk, thus reinforcing a negative image of young people. Does it ring a bell? With the shameful episode of the outbreak in Mallorca, the same thing has happened again. History repeats itself. But that is already the fourth wave. We go in parts.
The second wave begins with the mobilizations for freedom of expression in support of rapper Pablo Hasél. The media focus at that time more or less well-intentioned was reduced to seeking the opinion of experts who would explain what had been the breeding ground for such protests. This information, which for the general public can be interesting, from the point of view of a young person is something of an insult to our intelligence. They are going to explain to us the reason for our discomfort. Without giving us a voice, in addition. Well, let’s see if they tell us something we don’t know. Now, the worst thing is not this, the worst thing is that the generalized narrative starts from the premise that the young people who demonstrate are vandals. Those who like to criminalize protest rubbed their hands. 2×1 offer in criminalization. We are going to link youth with violent actions in demonstrations, why not?
We live the third wave with the end of the state of alarm. The focus was on mass celebrations. The news broadcasts broadcast the images of the party in the Puerta del Sol (it is well known that there is no life outside the center of Madrid) that was not only made up of young people but they were the ones who occupied the center of criticism again. It is true, and I will admit it, that in this episode there were some voices that, in the face of such clear evidence, said a truism: not all the young people were there, nor were all those who were there young. However, that message was not enough to prevent the fourth wave of criminalization of youth that we are witnessing.
Summer is here, vacations, school trips, parties, and idle youth are back on target. The latest media outbreak has been the outbreak of a group of young people who were on a final study trip in Mallorca. The media attention has focused on the behavior of this group, it is true that it is more than reprehensible, but the root problem is another and that is not talked about: the leisure model that is promoted from the Balearic Islands and the dependence on tourism from our economy, all of this absolutely incompatible with the pandemic.
The media powers have dedicated themselves to criminalizing youth during a pandemic that is affecting us in a very significant way. Those who study had to make a lot of effort to adapt to the situation, those who work are not guaranteed to be able to emancipate themselves, those who share a flat and / or confined spaces assumed confinements in a precarious and unsafe way, putting their own health and that of others at risk. which would also have its psychological impact, many and many did not have a sad balcony to look out on.
Today being young is synonymous with precariousness. We could speak of the romanticization of precariousness by the media powers that call “job hopping” to “frequently change jobs” when the problem is the high temporality of employment or the baptism as “coliving” to the “residential model based on renting a room “when the problem is that housing prices are so high that emancipation is impossible if it is not by sharing a room in an apartment. But this is another topic and I would give for another article. Or maybe not. Maybe it is all the same phenomenon that we could call media violence against youth.