In the United Kingdom, antisocial behaviour is defined as that which is causing, or is likely to cause, harassment, fear, alarm, or distress to one or more persons outside of that individuals’ household. There are many obvious crimes or illegal activities that can be labeled as antisocial behaviour, such as arson, assault, or other threatening behaviour. There are also many antisocial behaviours that are not directly illegal, but may grounds for investigation such as unkempt property or overgrown lawns, noise pollution, or use of public space for inappropriate activities.
It is important to separate antisocial behaviour from mental illness, as the acts themselves and engagement in antisocial behaviour is not in itself considered a mental illness. However, underlying mental illness and social disorders may contribute to a person engaging in antisocial behaviour. For this reason, the individuals should be approached with caution and by professionals in order to ensure they do not act violently and are offered the help they need.
Types of Antisocial Behaviours
There are a significant number of behaviours and activities that can be categorised as antisocial behaviour, ranging in severity between committing crime and acting unusually. Typically, individuals will display more than one of the actions or behaviours that are considered to be antisocial. The categories include activities that might cause harm to another individual or group, damage property, or are a public nuisance. These activities may occur in a variety of settings such as in the home or neighbourhood, in the workplace, within a school, or in other public forums.
The various categories of antisocial behaviour include those activities that are against the law, harass others, and disrupt the environment of the neighbourhood or the community. There is no exact definition or list the encompasses all actions considered to be antisocial but generally include the following; harassment, threats, verbal abuse, intimidation, graffiti and vandalism, assault, noise violations, public intoxication and disturbance, arson, racially directed behaviours, shoplifting, trespassing, throwing objects dangerously, and prostitution. Often these activities and behaviours can have negative consequences on a specific individual, but are more likely to reduce the overall social aspects of the neighbourhood or community in which they occur.
Impacts of Antisocial Behaviour
There is the potential for both economic and social impact, as a consequence for antisocial behaviours. The most significant impact of antisocial behaviour is on the social functioning of a neighbourhood or community, as well as the potential for psychological harm to others who might be exposed to instances of antisocial behaviour. There can also be financial penalties to neighbourhoods or communities where antisocialbehaviour is common or goes unaddressed, since those places are unlikely to see increases in population and businesses are less likely to be successful.
The impacts of antisocial behaviour can be on individuals, groups of people, entire neighbourhoods or communities, or the environment in which they are happening. The severity of consequences on individuals depends on the nature of the behaviour, and can also include psychological harm from the event and the resulting issues. Commonly, the effect on the environment can be the most significant impact of antisocial behaviour as it can contribute to increased incidents of negative actions and reduce the comfort for those people living within that environment.
How to Help
There are numerous governmental and community based agencies dedicated to addressing antisocial behaviour in the community, and they often prefer to be the first point of contact prior to involving law enforcement. One central belief about addressing antisocial behaviour is that many of the less serious issues can be mitigated through appropriate communication and limited intervention by agencies with experience intervening in such issues.
If you become aware of an individual who is acting in an unusual fashion, or is partaking in the activities that define antisocial behaviour, then you should first report this to a local agency or online resource such as http://asbhelp.co.uk/. Once you have engaged an experienced agency they can help determine whether or not it is necessary or beneficial to involve law enforcement.
Some examples of non-legal interventions include; verbal or written warnings outlining the issue, outreach from professionals and volunteers, improvements to the environment in which these behaviours occur to discourage antisocial acts, and enforcement of fines or penalties for public nuisance and damaging of the property or environment. There are also a variety of supports groups that can assist people who might engage in antisocial behaviours, as well as those who might have been exposed or psychologically traumatised.
As it is difficult to identify whether or not an individuals’ actions denotes antisocial behaviour it is important to enlist the help of professionals if there is any suspicious or inappropriate behaviour. There are numerous treatment options to address the underlying causes of antisocial behaviour, including improvements made to the environment in which they occur in order to reduce future occurrences.