Pages 5 – 7
The Existing Facilities for Teenagers
Attention has been drawn already to the thirty-two organisations listed in the Chinnor Guide of 1967. However, only two of these are exclusive to teenagers (the two named youth clubs) and only eight of the remaining adult organisations can include teenagers in their activities and these are mainly the sports clubs.
There is no building exclusively for the leisure use of teenagers and although there are three public halls in the village, the youth clubs have to compete for them with all the other organisations. The main Chinnor Youth Club can only use the village hall twice a week owing to competition and as the fee charged them is a reduced one they may have to give up one night if another organisation wants the hall and is prepared to pay the full fee. This insecurity and the implication of being accepted somewhat on sufferance must hinder the activities of this club and it may be significant that their most successful activities are the outdoor sporting functions based on the various sports pitches of which there is no real shortage in the village. The number of these will soon be increased by the full development of the playing fields in the village centre. The other main club, the Congregational Youth Club, holds its weekly meetings in the hall behind the Congregational Church in which they have at least security of tenure. On the other hand the hall has various defects, for instance that of not conforming fully to fire regulations to that smoking has to be forbidden. Both clubs claim that they are aware of the problems ahead of them but only the Congregational club has made any obvious attempts to vary its activities and widen its appeal to the teenagers. None of the leaders has any recent training in techniques of youth leadership nor any obvious awareness of the social casework approach to disturbed teenagers. Perhaps this is too much to hope for in a comparatively unsophisticated village society such as Chinnor’s is at the present time but it would nevertheless be highly desirable, particularly in the light of recent events involving appearances in Court of Chinnor boys.
This does not reflect in any way upon the personal qualities and high sense of responsibility of the respective leaders whose activities are perfectly effective within the limits they have imposed upon themselves and which are imposed by circumstances and more will be said about this in part two of the report.
Arising directly from the partial failure of these clubs to keep pace with teenage cultural trends has been the sporadic formation by self-led teenage groups during the last year of so of “discotheque” clubs modelled on their more mature city counterparts. While they exist these are very successful in creating a totally exclusive subculture in which the teenagers taking part can express themselves physically and emotionally away from parental supervision and in a milieu wholly of their own creation using the music and conventions of their own contemporary ‘pop’ culture.
Unfortunately this very lack of supervision is the cause of their evanescence and no responsible leader has yet emerged from these discotheques. Thus the activity, which in any case only takes place in adult-owned and controlled property, has remained unrelated to adult mores and without an effective leader to mediate between generations there has been the inevitable friction resulting in the refusal of each of the available premises in turn for the use of the discotheque clubs. The whole situation has summarised the problems in relationships between adults and teenagers which only start in the family and which are likely to beset Chinnor even more in the future as the proportion of teenagers rises and their demands on time and space become increasingly insistent.
To summarise the present situation for teenagers in Chinnor: both existing youth clubs are severely limited by being in competition with adult organisations for the available buildings and time. Because of this lack of exclusive premises, both the number of teenagers that can be accommodated on the available nights is limited and the development of new activities is curtailed. When the teenagers do create their own activities they do so only by courtesy of adults whose understandable reaction to noise and the inevitable minor damages to property is to forbid the activity. The resulting impasse between the generations is likely to be, as always, one of the main obstacles to the development of teenage leisure facilities in Chinnor in the future.