The epidemic of lad culture has been prevalent in this country for quite some time – a subculture involving young men behaving recklessly – drinking, taking drugs and showing a general disregard towards themselves and the people around them. Whilst that’s the widely accepted impression of lad culture, it’s taking a turn for the worst in Bradford.
Lad culture has taken on a much more dangerous meaning in Bradford; it is drug dealers, boy racers and young men, sometimes not so young, involved in illicit activities of all kinds that inevitably ruin lives. This culture thrives especially in socially and economically disadvantaged inner-city areas – BD3, BD8, BD9, BD7, however it is not limited to these areas, it’s a city-wide problem that has needed discussion for a long time. It’s unfortunate that the deaths of four young men involved in a fatal car crash is what forced communities into opening up discourse around what it being done to help young men stay away from the ‘badboy’ lifestyles many aspire to. These conversations should be ongoing within communities at all times, not just in the midst catastrophes that get noticed at the time of someone’s tragic death.
The religious lectures given by Muslim scholars regarding this certainly go some way in raising the issue directly with the young men likely to be recruited into this type of culture. However, simply speaking our way to preventing and rectifying the behaviours of these individuals is not enough; more needs to be done. It is not difficult to comprehend the effect of drugs and drug dealing, yet the drug culture in Bradford is ever getting out of hand, certainly within the South Asian community. Daily, we see the mugshots of drug dealers involved in scandalous drug dealing missions being imprisoned for twenty years and beyond, yet we don’t see the impact this is having on their own families and the wider community. It’s difficult to empathise with criminals like this, but it is important to understand their reasons for getting involved in criminal activity and trying to represent the gangster ideology. Often, young men find themselves complicit in these activities due to peer pressure and the desire to fit in within their circle, not because of unstable situations at home.
The lack of physical intervention to prevent gangs of friends in becoming criminals is perhaps the primary reason why this culture has become widespread. It’s all well and good telling these young men to stay out of harm’s way, but there needs to be an element of real action taking place. The lack of things to do in local communities is what drives young men to loiter on the streets and act thuggish, in many cases, late at night, causing fear amongst the public. To make matters worse, it seems even local figures of authority are afraid of approaching these men for fear of retaliation, so technically the only support they will get is from within prisons, when it’s too late. It would be beneficial for ex-offenders who started off as perceived ‘badboys’ to go into Bradford’s schools and provide first-hand accounts of the dangers of getting involved in a lifestyle of drugs, police chases, and the thug life. The support these men require is not from individuals who cannot relate to them in any way, it needs to come from places and people they can wholeheartedly relate with – to speak with about any concerns and to find encouragement to do better in ways suited to them.