The Riots of 1964 — Chapter 13

Research Director’s Report
Manning Van Nostrand, Director of Research

Characteristics of Participants in C.A.V.E. – Sponsored Activities

What are the outstanding characteristics of those young people who are attracted to the kinds of activities which C.A.V.E. sponsored? At the outset it must be made very clear that we will not attempt to describe those youngsters who were part of the youth staff, or part of the volunteer staff. We will try to depict the kind of youngster who is attracted to a program such as C.A.V.E. sponsored. It must be kept in mind that a great many of these youngsters we are describing are those already among the arrested group. Fifty-seven point eight percent of the arrested attended one or more C.A.V.E.-sponsored activity. On the other hand, a little less than forty percent of the non-arrested group went to these activities. We can say that insofar as those participants in these activities are unlike the reactions given by the arrested group that they are reflective of the non-arrested sub-group within the CAVE participants. We will compare the CAVE participants with those who did not participate in C.A.V.E. activities.

General Physical characteristics: It would probably be safe to assume that in addition to the local young people who joined in with C.A.V.E. activities, that those youngsters who joined C.A.V.E. were from more urban areas than those who did not. The greater Boston area, the Merrimac Valley cities find good representation. It would seem that those who participated were on Hampton Beach for longer periods of time than those who did not. Probably because it was difficult for the Project to give very much adequate publicity, it was exceedingly difficult for us to get to the youngster who comes to Hampton Beach occasionally or for the first time. The success of the program, it would appear, depended largely on young people telling other young people about the activities. In terms of the status of the father’s occupational level, we have an almost even split with an equal proportion of the top levels in the participant group and non-participant group; and the same equality in the lower prestige levels.

Beach Behavior and Attitudes: C.A.V.E. appeals to the young person who collects in groups, large groups. We remember that the arrested youngster also attaches himself to this large clustering. Judging from the data, it might well be that the arrested youngster is drawn along by the non-arrested. The preponderance of youth who cluster in large groups is simply too large to be composed only of arrested youth. C.A.V.E. participants tended to attract the kids who also participated in other forms of social life on the beach (e.g. dating and dancing). It could easily be inferred that C.A.V.E. met a real social need of providing a meeting place for youngsters, a focus of their activity.

The youngster who participated in the C.A.V.E. activities was here either to work or had come with his parents (in contrast to the non-C.A.V.E. participant). When he first came to the beach, he noticed the more stringent atmosphere. If we allow for the presence of the arrested group and their perception of the new rules, we see that the non-arrested C.A.V.E. participant is a youngster who first sees the police. Curiously, there is a slight edge in first attraction for the C.A.V.E. project among non-participants.

Even the out-of-C.A.V.E. kids felt that the various aspects of what C.A.V.E. was doing was desirable. This would seem to say that with better publicity, etc., another year could prove to be of tremendous significance to the young people on the beach. The various activities which the young people planned – dancing, singing, are very popular with young people in both the groups under consideration.

Attitudes Toward the Adult World: While C.A.V.E. youngsters were more aware of Police and rules, they were only slightly more antagonistic toward police. In terms of police in general, they had a far more positive attitude. Here, then, are young people who recognize the value of good law enforcement, but who might be sensitive to overly-harsh law enforcement.

There is only a slight difference between the way the in-group and the out-group views adult attitudes towards youth Perhaps this range of attitudes is some kind of common denominator which is only intensified as we consider the arrested group. Balancing off the group of C.A.V.E. participants with the arrested we find that the non-arrested C.A.V.E. participants might be a bit more tolerant of attitudes which adults have toward them. On the whole, the C.A.V.E. participants and the non-participants held very similar attitudes toward the adult world. The only interesting difference seems to be in the area of people not knowing where they are going. The C.A.V.E. participants seem to be able to focus on a reason for the unhappiness of people finding it in personal and social reasons. It is difficult to see in these attitude sets any particularly pre-disposing causal relationships why these youngsters would participate in C.A.V.E. as over against the non-participants. We might guess, however, that the participants (particularly among the non-arrested group) would be a little less preoccupied with the failings of the adult world. This would free them to band together and participate in a function specifically designed for them. Their lack of a feeling of personal threat from the adult world enables them to more freely participate in the activities sponsored by C.A.V.E. This greater flexibility is probably self-reinforcing and promotes a more gentle attitude toward the adult world. One can speculate that perhaps the more perceptive of the arrested youth senses that the C.A.V.E. participant as a group does not offer him very fertile ground for finding camaraderie in his hostilities. There is no question but what we are really grasping at straws when we seek to analyze out the reasons why a particular youngster would participate in C.A.V.E. or would not. There are too many subtleties here and our research tools were simply not that precise.

C.A.V.E. participants tended to be somewhat more depressed about their chances for achieving success than did the non-participants. If this is an indicator of pent-up frustration, which it certainly could be, involving these young people in the affairs of C.A.V.E. would be a most useful kind of service. It is most probable that if these kinds of opportunities were not present they could well vent their frustrations elsewhere. (This high percentage of pessimism is not accounted for by the arrested youth who answer in parallel fashion with non-arrested youth on this particular question.)

The participants in the C.A.V.E. program were more satisfied with their schooling than were the non-participants. If school situation is one of the main frustration builders, this means we may not have reached the hard core of troubled youth on the beach with the programs of C.A.V.E. Considering when this question was asked (late in the summer), and watching this with the responses of Wave II, this is probably true.

In spite of the presence of great numbers of arrested youth in the C.A.V.E.-sponsored activities who have a somewhat more hostile attitude toward the world in general, the young people who come to these activities appear to be not as troubled as the average youth on Hampton Beach. There is also the very real possibility that of the arrested group, the C.A.V.E.-sponsored activities attracted those who did not share in the general mind set of the group as a whole.

SUMMARY. C.A.V.E. can be seen as a self-protecting (from the prying eyes of the police and authority figures) group which meets the very real social needs of the young people who come to Hampton Beach. Because of the lack of good publicity, the activities of C.A.V.E. tend to be attended by those who are on the beach long enough to be connected to a word-of-mouth communications network. The attitudes of the C.A.V.E. participants could best be described as ambivalent. They tend to see adults as not knowing where they are going but that they are reasonably happy about it all. Their attitudes toward the police border on the negative. The ambivalence, instead of having a paralyzing affect, seems to allow for the freedom to go ahead and set up and participate in their own youthful activities. The participants seem to be more satisfied with their schooling than do the non-participants.

We should stress, in conclusion, that the participants in the C.A.V.E. programs are more like the average youngster on Hampton Beach than they are different. The characteristics we have been attempting to point out are by way of exploring differences. We have been seeking to answer the question: How is the C.A.V.E. participant different from the non-participant. We find that he really is not terribly different, but that most of the differences go in the direction of a somewhat more positive orientation to the world about him. We could reasonably guess that among those young people who do participate in the C.A.V.E.-sponsored program would be the kind of leadership in the youth sub-culture that could be most helpful to their own adolescent needs and to the community as a whole. It would seem that from the standpoint of program and the standpoint of working with the kinds of problems facing the community as it attempts to grapple with its problems, that these youth-sponsored activities are a most beneficial part of dealing with the problem as a whole. It could also be said that such programs would need to be very well run, that success should be courted at all costs. The young people who are most likely to be responsible are most likely to attend these activities.