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For the record label, see Anti-Social Records
Anti-social behaviour (which can be spelled with or without the hyphen) is often seen as public behaviour that lacks judgement and consideration for others and may cause them or their property damage. It may be intentional, as with vandalism or graffiti, or the result of negligence. Persistent anti-social behaviour may be a manifestation of an antisocial personality disorder. The counterpart of anti-social behaviour is pro-social behaviour, namely any behaviour intended to help or benefit another person, group or society .

In common parlance, antisocial often has a significantly different meaning and is used to describe those who perceived to be excessively introverted. Though technically an incorrect definition of the antisocial behaviour, this use has become increasingly common.

With both pro- and anti-social behaviour, intent is the crucial determinant; for instance, infants may act in seemingly anti-social ways, yet are generally accepted as too young to have developed an adequate theory of mind to know the difference. By age 4 or 5, however, children should have developed sufficiently to distinguish between the two .

Anti-social behaviour has also appeared with the development of the Internet with phenomena such as trolling. This category of behaviour is encouraged given the possibility to use pseudonyms, to be anonymous (or develop false identities), and the feeling of impunity.


In preschool-aged children, an increase in aggression is normal, but parents should teach their children the proper lessons. Lack of such behavioural changes is cause for concern, as this may lead to depression and anxiety later in life; however, continued aggression can indicate more severe problems. Both bullies and their victims have inadequate emotional regulation. Ultimately, parents should be aware that "emotions need to be regulated, not repressed" .

Legal and maintaining order dimensions

Enforcing Law

Some complaints of anti-social behaviour made to the police are often not cases of anti-social behaviour at all.

For example, a group of young people meeting on a street corner is not in itself being anti-social. However, if they start to let off fireworks, knock over a garden wall or shout abuse at passers-by, their behaviour is obviously anti-social. The following list sets out what the UK police classify as anti-social behaviour:

  • Substance misuse such as glue sniffing
  • Drinking alcohol on the streets
  • Problems related to animals such as not properly restraining animals in public places
  • Begging
  • Prostitution related activity such as curb crawling and loitering
  • Abandoned vehicles that may or may not be stolen
  • Vehicle nuisance such as “cruises” - revving car engines, racing, wheel spinning and horn sounding.
  • Noise coming from business or industry
  • Noise coming from alarms
  • Noise coming from pubs and clubs
  • Environmental damage such as graffiti and littering
  • Inappropriate use of fireworks
  • Inappropriate use of public space such as disputes among neighbours, rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour
  • General drunken behaviour (which is rowdy or inconsiderate)
  • Hoax calls to the emergency services
  • Pubs or clubs serving alcohol after hours
  • Malicious communication
  • Hate incidents where abuse involves race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability
  • Firearms incidents such as use of an imitation weapon

Anti Social Behaviour Orders (Legal)

Anti Social Behaviour Orders are civil sanctions but have been classed as criminal proceedings for funding purposes due to the restrictions that they can place on individual liberty. An Anti Social Behaviour Order does not itself give the defendant a criminal record, but contains conditions prohibiting the offender from specific anti-social acts or entering into defined areas, and is effective for a minimum of two years. Breach of an Anti Social Behaviour Order is, however, a criminal offence. A comprehensive article on ASBO law can be found at: Antisocial behaviour orders and Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 (Commentary)

UK government involvement

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 defines anti-social behaviour as acting in a manner that has "caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household" as the perpetrator.

In 2003, in an attempt to curb anti-social behaviour, the British government introduced the Anti-Social Behaviour Act. This introduced the Anti-Social Behaviour Order ("Asbo"), a civil order that can result in a jail sentence of up to five years if broken.

In a survey conducted by University College Londonmarker during May 2006, the UK was thought by respondents to be Europe's worst country for anti-social behaviour, with 76% believing Britain had a "big or moderate problem".

See also


  1. Safer Lancashire website (accessed 20 Dec 06)
  2. Matt Weaver and agencies (2006). UK 'has worst behaviour problem in Europe'., Tuesday 9 May 2006

Further reading

External links

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