‘Young people have to cut through excesses, but all generations are more laconic’


At tonight’s press conference, the cabinet warned: obey the rules and curb the number of new infections now, or more measures are needed. It was announced that mayors can make more local policies. And that is urgently needed, for example, mayor Paul Depla of Breda. “We see the number of infections increasing in Breda, also among young people.”

Prime Minister Mark Rutte immediately addressed young people who would not comply with the rules. “You may think you are invincible, but you can infect others.” He reminds young people of their responsibility.

But is such a call enough? According to generation expert Talitha Muusse, the cabinet is sending the wrong message to young people. “I think it is counterproductive and that it creates an authority problem.”

There are major concerns about the high number of young people becoming infected. That group was therefore directly addressed by the prime minister. Last week, more than half of the new infections occurred in the age group 17 to 30 years.

According to Muusse, young people are hit hard by the effects of the crisis, which partly explains why they are less compliant with the rules. “There is little perspective and it is not clear when normal life will return. Young people often have lost their jobs, cannot do an internship or complete training.”

‘Youth communication must be improved’

In addition, according to Muusse, many young people do not believe in the strategy of the government, which they find unclear. “You have to take youth communication seriously. It really has to be taken to a higher and better level.”

Now she pretends that the revival of the coronavirus lies only in young people. That is a breeding ground for frustration. “The excesses, the people who go to the border with illegal parties, they are of course wrong. But I think we should also be honest with each other: since the weather is nice, the whole of the Netherlands has become more easy going. Then I think it’s very tricky to appeal to a target audience. “

Mayor Depla is also struggling with communication between young people and the government. “As a man over 50, should I say what works and what doesn’t when it comes to appealing to young people,” he wonders. “Enforcement is mainly fining and punishing, but I hear little about seducing and giving responsibility to young people.”

Conversation with target group

Depla is also critical of the government’s attitude. “We started as if young people could not or hardly get sick. Now we have to say: what we communicated earlier was not correct. And frankly, we also do not know what works and what does not work when it comes to reaching young people. much more talking to the target group about it. “

The municipality of Breda has therefore invited young people to the town hall to discuss with them what measures work. “When I tell my own kids what to do, they don’t listen directly,” Depla says. “I hope that young people become part of the solution themselves.”

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