Sunday, June 19, 2005

There'll always be an England

From the Chicago Tribune:

Watch out for "happy slapping," the latest youth craze to sweep Britain.

It's not a new dance step or even a new designer drug. It's a criminal assault.

Groups of teenagers approach an unsuspecting person and begin punching and kicking him or her while capturing it all on their mobile camera phones. The images are later uploaded and shared on the Internet.

The victims can be young or old, male or female. Bus stops, tube stations and parks are considered prime venues. In most cases, the injuries are minor. But on Saturday, British newspapers reported that an 11-year-old London girl had been raped by a gang of happy slappers, and Scotland Yard confirmed that three 14-year-old boys had been arrested.

The craze apparently started in London late last year but has spread across the country. British Transport Police say they have investigated about 200 attacks in London alone since the beginning of the year, but they acknowledge that most go unreported.

Happy slapping is the latest manifestation of what Britons call "yob culture." The word "yob" dates to the 19th Century--it likely derives from "boy" spelled backward--and it denotes a kind of loutish, anti-social behavior associated with working-class youth in Britain's urban centers. The British soccer hooligan is the quintessential yob.
You can read the article "'Happy slap' yobs breed fear, anger" by clicking here.

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comments: 2

Stefan said...

Great, another reason to hate cell phones. I thought I'd completed my list of reasons recently while watching a woman in an SUV run her vehicle's air conditioner (on a mild day) while holding a 20 minute conversation, but clearly I was wrong.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for the comment, Stefan. To me, the cell phone and the online sharing are the strangest parts of this story--not simply that these people take pleasure in what they're doing but that they have access to the necessary technology and are adept enough to use it. Granted, it's not that difficult to upload photos, but the combination of low violence and high-tech is still, to me, weirdly disturbing.