Youthful disregard for the law

Young Norwegians growing up in a country made wealthy by oil in recent years have increasingly been referred to as spoiled and accustomed to affluence. Now a new survey indicates they don’t have much respect for laws and regulations either.

The survey, conducted by research firm Norsk Monitor, showed that Norwegians aged 15 to 26 scored high in a category measuring lack of respect for the law. A majority seem to have a relaxed attitude towards bending the rules or ignoring laws involving such “minor” offenses as failing to buy tickets for public transportation, cheating on tests, failing to show up for classes or shoplifting.

Norsk Monitor is a comprehensive survey conducted every other year for the state ministry responsible for issues involving children, equality and integration. It aims to analyze values held by those its researchers interview, who amounted to 3,597 young Norwegians in the newest survey.

The values getting the highest scores involved having status, taking risks and showing little respect for rules and regulations. (called “lovforakt” in Norwegian).

“Norwegian youth seem to have a constant tendency to test limits and be in opposition, and we see that clearly in this survey,” Erik Dalen of Norsk Monitor told newspaper Aftenposten. “They challenge the rules, by having a more liberal view on violations than most others.”

He proposes a list of measures to limit the consequences of a lack of respect for laws and regulations, including tougher controls within the schools and even warning retailers who cater to youth, to guard themselves against theft. Dalen thinks schools should also consider special insurance plans to safeguard risk-taking students.

Students interviewed by Aftenposten didn’t offer much support for Norsk Monitor’s good intentions. “We already have (state subsidized) health care,” said one 17-year-old, who didn’t think more measures aimed at taking care of teenagers were necessary.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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