Hampton Beach Project -- The Riots of 1964 -- Characteristics of Arrested and Non-Arrested Youth

The Riots of 1964 -- Chapter 12

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

Characteristics of Non-Arrested and Arrested Youth

From a purely statistical standpoint, these two groups of youth are the most divergent. All of the data collected by the "random" interviews were run through I.B.M. computers and cross-tabulated nine different ways: data on the arrested alone, sex, age, whether or not school will be attended, father's occupation, whether or not C.A.V.E.-sponsored activities were attended, frequency of beach attendance, residence and early and late summer young people contrasted with the arrested. The only one of these cross-tabulations which yielded particularly interesting results was the one which contrasted arrested and non-arrested youth. Of course, since this research report is so vitally concerned with the outcome of C.A.V.E., this cross-tabulation must be analyzed.

We turn to the data related to the arrested and non-arrested youth. In so doing, we obtain a picture of the data as a whole, when delineating the characteristics of the non-arrested youth. Let us use the eight major categories described earlier in grouping the data.

Physical and External Social Circumstances

The young people who come to Hampton Beach are generally from relatively nearby communities. Only a very few come from such "exotic" places as Florida and California. For the most part they tend to be school children tending toward a middle to upper-middle class background. While there does not appear on the beach those youngsters who are from lower classes, and are not returning to school, they are the minority. Over the summer the group seems to divide into an older and a younger group with the younger teenagers predominating. It is difficult to know what the frequency of attendance was on the beach from the "random" interviews. In all probability, the data from the Irritability-Deviancy Test provides a more accurate reading of this aspect of the summer youth population. Although these youngsters seem to come from fairly prosperous homes, on an average, they do not seem to reflect a mood of indulged affluence. Significantly the majority of these youngsters do not own their own cars, and the money they spend has come because they worked for it.

There is the same concentration among the arrested group from surrounding New Hampshire and Massachusetts communities. However, it is interesting to observe that there are more "outsiders" among this group than among the non-arrested group. The arrested group, although somewhat older in age, nonetheless has a substantially lesser degree of education. There is a greater number of the arrested group who are not going on to school. Concomitantly, the arrested group is definitely weighted toward the lower classes.

Life Aspiration and/or Values

This interview did not explore with any great thoroughness this aspect of the young people interviewed. But, there were several questions on this topic so that a bit of perspective might be gained. This report will select only those questions which seemed to show some genuine differences. Most of the questions demonstrated that in terms of life aspiration the arrested and non-arrested had very similar outlooks. One of the questions asked is: How would you change yourself? The subject is asked to give three things. The response on this item is fairly well scattered, with education ranking high on all arrested and non-arrested groups. It would seem that the second word in this question might be the most instructive; the first providing the more socially acceptable answer, the second the more thoughtful, introspective remark. On this second response, the arrested rank personal motivation as their highest response and they are higher in this one as a group than are the non-arrested. We also pick up a thread in this category which will be followed throughout the other categories in this particular phase of the analysis. The non-arrested group does not rank change in family status as being very high, but the arrested group does not even mention this response. At this point it is difficult to ascertain just what this means, but throughout the analysis of the arrested responses pertaining to family life will be noted.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of this question concerning the change of self is that such a large group indicated that no change was really necessary. Particularly is this true with the arrested where almost thirty percent on Word One indicate that no change is necessary.

What is probably a generalized happiness, security, success are the things which these youngsters say they want most. Significantly, they are not motivated toward money as a particular goal, neither are they specifically hopeful for social recognition. One is tempted to paint a picture here of comfortable, leisure-loving adults, and to suggest the very real possibility that, in terms of these goals, they have arrived. One must also be reminded of the fact that these particular aspirations are the more open-ended ones of the responses. Again, we note the marked difference between the aspirations of the arrested group as over against those of the non-arrested when it relates to matters of family. The arrested group apparently does not see the establishment of a family in terms of significant life goals.

In this category of Life Aspiration we begin to add to our picture of the arrested youngster. Previously, we saw this group as tending toward the socially less acceptable middle class values of education and occupational prestige, that he is older and beginning to move out of the comfortable confines of the adolescent sub-culture. Now, we see a different dimension: his goals are similar to that of the ordinary teenager, but there is emerging a difference. He is a bit more anxious, or hungry for "happiness." Superficially, he agrees that education is what society is telling him is the answer to his problems. But he also feels an indefinable sense of personal lack; he calls it lack of motivation. An outline begins to emerge suggesting that the individuals in this group may have some difficulty in their perceptions of family.

Beach Behavior

What do young people do when they come to a resort community such as Hampton Beach? The data supplied by the "random" interview suggests that they come because others come, that in one way or other this is an extension of the teenage culture. Usually, they come with someone else and in their car. In the beginning of the summer they come in groups of teenagers. But as the summer goes on, more and more of them come by themselves or with their parents. In the beginning of the summer, those youngsters who stayed on the beach overnight slept, for the most part, in rooming houses. These they apparently find not so comfortable, and we notice a decline in rooming house frequenting. In contrast to the non-arrested group, the arrested (nearly 25%) hitch-hike to the beach and through the summer they continue to come with friends.

All of this is prelude to what they report for activities while at the Beach. By far the most important activity for the teenager on Hampton Beach is "hanging around" or sunbathing. With the exception of Saturday day working, the only other activity which seems to have any consistency of response is Saturday night dating and dancing. Perhaps it is of some note to record that daytime hanging around and sunbathing diminished over the summertime. (The Beach Observation Scale seems to suggest that a rather vigorous police policy may be partially responsible for this change in behavior pattern.)

It is quite noticeable that the response for C.A.V. E. activities is not very large. This probably is due to the fact that these interviews were given all summer long, and the C.A.V. E. activities were conducted at somewhat isolated times.

Perhaps at first glance there is not too much noticeable difference between the arrested and non-arrested groups in terms of their activity. Yet, subtle though they be, there are differences. Among the arrested there is a much greater concentration of "hanging around", and with the exception of Friday night, there is virtually no dating. It is most interesting then, to observe that the arrested seem to spend more money on Hampton Beach than does the non-arrested. More of the arrested group spent seven dollars or more than did the non-arrested group. It might also have been that the arrested group had not so much time to spend their money than some of the non-arrested youth. Since they are older on an average than the non-arrested youth, it is quite possible that they simply have more money to spend. Yet, one cannot help suspect that there is an element of boredom in their money-spending behavior. A very small group of both the arrested and the non-arrested spent less than a dollar.

Why do they come to Hampton Beach? As was said earlier, the real reason is because others come. Specifically, they come for the girls; they come to work; to be with their parents on their vacation; to sunbathe. Among the arrested we note that more of them came looking for the girls; less came with parents. Practically none of them came to sunbathe.

While the youngsters were at the beach, some of them were attracted to the activities sponsored by C. A. V. E. Nearly forty percent of the non-arrested youth were attracted to these activities. The arrested, who have come simply to be "where the action is", go to the CAVE-sponsored event in a greater proportion than does the non-arrested youth. It seems apparent that they (the arrested) have not come to Hampton Beach with any particular goal in mind - simply to meet girls, to hang around. We will be picking this thread up again, but meanwhile let us simply pause to observe the potential such youth-sponsored activities have of reaching youngsters who seem to have a potential for getting in trouble.

We begin to pick up a bit more of that bored, wandering, aimless quality which is hinted at in earlier sections describing the arrested. The non-arrested group, while not busily engaged, still seems purposeful in their beach activities. For the arrested, his "only claim to fame" is that he spends a bit more money than the other young people.

Peer Group Life

Here again is a category which the research phase of the Project could have spent much more time investigating. The reason that this category is mentioned over against the "Beach Behavior" is to try to emphasize a rather striking point in the differences between the arrested and non-arrested group. Let it be said here that probably the majority of the interviews of the arrested took place during the second half of the summer, and that if the arrested should ordinarily be like any group they would be like the youngsters who came in the second half of the summer. It is noted on the Beach Observation Scale the marked decrease of large groups over the summer. When we compare the grouping of the arrested youth (who were arrested while in a group), we see that they are far more prone to be in large groups than the non-arrested youth. Once again, we seem to pick up a thread of something which we will see developing later. The arrested youth do not seem to be able to perceive all of their social situation. Here is one aspect of it; the non-arrested group distributes itself rather evenly in all size groups, while the arrested youth bunch up with the large groups. By itself, it does not seem to be terribly significant. We will add more elements to this picture.

Another interesting difference between the groups in which the arrested are involved and those groups in which we find the non-arrested is the curious fact that the arrested finds himself in one of two kinds of groups; either no girls at all, or a great many. This is rather interesting in light of the fact that his expressed purpose for coming to Hampton Beach is to meet girls. He apparently, is either totally frustrated by the groups with which he associates, or he is with so many girls and in such a large group that he cannot do anything about or with the girls he does meet. His "defenses" are sure.


We have already seen that those who were arrested were picked up in groups. The ratio is six to one in favor of being picked up in a group. By a four to one margin, nearly, the youngsters arrested on Hampton Beach were arrested by local officers. And by a slight majority, they were treated roughly and harshly.

Attitudes Toward the Adult World

When the fundamental working hypotheses of this Project were being formulated, it was felt that we could safely assume that there was a basic kind of cleavage between the adult and adolescent community. We see on the Irritability-Deviancy Test that this is not necessarily the case. By certain questions asked in this "random" interview, we can obtain a different perspective on the possibilities of a break between the adults and adolescents. This aspect of the "random" interview is one of the more crucial phases of the interview. It is hoped that attitudes toward authority, toward the business community, toward adults in general and generalized perceptions of the adult world will be gained.

There is a slightly more positive than negative attitude toward the local police, and perhaps more significantly, it improves throughout the summer. When we come to the State Police, there is for them an edge in positive responses. If we can take words two and three as more indicative of real feeling because of the initial wish to appear "respectable", then the responses become most interesting. For the local police, their position as we go on in the words decreases in positive responses; whereas, the state police's margin of positive attitude seems to increase as continue to probe for words to describe them. Of course, the exact opposite interpretation is possible if you see the first response as a sort of cathartic release to pent-up feeling and each probe getting at a more realistic appraisal. This difference in interpretation can be partially resolved if we look at the response of the arrested youth. They would have more reason to have negative reaction to the police. We find that they begin with positive responses in word one and gradually, by word three, give a very definite edge to the negative. There does seem to be among the young people on Hampton Beach a very real kind of negative response although it is probably in the minority of youngsters. When asked about police in general, the responses, particularly among the arrested, are quite positive. We must note that in the arrested, by the time we get to word three, we do pick up some genuine negative feeling.

If we can judge the feeling toward beach proprietors by whether or not the young people felt they got their money's worth, we can say again, that the edge is toward the positive but that there is a considerable minority of young people who feel that they do not feel they do.

One of the most singularly startling results on this "random" interview were those which accompanied the question, "How do you think adults explain the way young people act?" The clearest answer to this question is that the young people feel that adults belittle them. There are those who feel that adults are unable to explain young people or who use their (the adult's) childhood as a criterion. But far and away the most prevalent response is that the young people feel adults belittle them. When we turn to the arrested group, we do not even get these minor themes of inability to explain any nostalgia. The arrested as a group clearly feel this belittling response on the part of the adults. This is the kind of response which cries out for follow-through in terms of research. It is the only clear-cut example we have of genuine conflict between the generations. The other responses are always mixed.

This report will present a special cross-tabulation concerning the characteristics of those who find a great many people to talk things over with as over against those who feel they have nearly no one they can confide in. Let us simply pause here to note that the non-arrested group is fairly even in its division between the groups of responses. There is among the non-arrested group a real weighting toward the side of having many people with whom they can talk things over. The arrested, on the other hand, seem to break down into a bi-polar distribution. Here we may have a good group of youngsters who seem to have many trusting friends; and, on the other hand, there is a group considerably larger than the comparable non-arrested group who feel they have few people in whom they can confide.

One of the few times in this random interview we notice any marked change between first and second values is in the matter of the young peoples' perception of where people are going, and if they know where they are going. During the first part of the summer, apparently, we had on Hampton Beach a group of youngsters who were decidedly disenchanted with the state of direction possessed by most adults. In the early summer group, there are twenty percent more young people who felt that people did not know where they were going than in the later summer group. It is interesting to speculate in whether the change in the youngsters who came later in the summer is dependent upon the fact that we have a younger group during that part of the season. As for the arrested, their responses average out to about a fifty-fifty breakdown.

Yet, sixty to seventy percent of the young people on the beach claim that most, or about half of the people in general are happy. It is noticeable here among both the arrested and non-arrested that there is a persistent minority of youngsters who feel that most people are not happy. Of course, the obvious implication of this question is that in describing people in general, as these last two questions seek to do, a description of one's inner state is thereby revealed. This is probably a fairly good indicator - especially when we take into account that "persistent minority."

Parallel to these questions pertaining to people in general is the request to describe people in general. Three responses are called for here. There are those young people who describe people as being "friendly," but then twice as many descriptions are in the categories of "selfish" and "confused - mixed-up." The arrested group echoes these sentiments and adds as a contribution the description "conforming."

There is then, some basis to the assumption of conflict between the generations. If "people" are perceived as being separate from the description of one's own emotional set, one has the feeling that these people are happy and know where they are going, but may not be taking the young people into account. There is a real tendency to see the older generation in colors not too flattering to adults. The arrested as a group, seems to intensify these feelings. It is probably close to accurate to say that the arrested youngsters feel more keenly about the conflict between the generations, but that their feelings are not necessarily separate and distinct from the feelings of the non-arrested youth.

Perhaps it tends to ameliorate the murkiness of the above-described feelings to note the responses given to the question, "What do adults worry about most?" Their prime worry is the family. This is the leading response among all the groups. Previously, we have noted some confused feeling about the family situation in that it may suggest that the arrested youth in their earlier responses may be answering the question in terms of family as they are concerned, their future family, marriage, and the like. Here, we are concerned with the youth's perception of his parents. All of these youngsters see their parents as concerned about them. One is tempted to feel that among the non-arrested that this concern reflects a kind of compassion for the parents who are guardedly watchful over their young. There may be with the arrested a tinge of the feeling that their parents' concern is impotent, that it doesn't really matter any more, it's too late. Though it may have little to do with the kinds of intervention activities put on by a community to alleviate youthful problems, this kind of information is most useful in the understanding of the dynamics of the stress in this adolescent period of life.

As a final note in this cursory glance at adolescent perceptions of the adult world, we get a brief glimpse at how these young people would like to change the world. Again, the three-idea technique is used. At this period of history with the war in Vietnam, peace is uppermost in the minds of the young people. Once this immediate concern is out of the way, matters of social equality come into prominence. As for the arrested group, there is the tendency to rank the issue of social equality high right at the beginning of their responses. One cannot help but remark that there are few of the members of the arrested group which seem perceptive enough to make some kind of response to those factors such as educational equality and the alleviation of social pressures that tend toward bringing about social and economic equality.

Beach Interests, Needs and Attitudes. As over against behavior, per se, what do the young people interviewed over the course of the summer feel about the various programs, the beach itself both in the present and for the future. A salient feature of one's attitude set is the first impression he has of a situation. With such intensive efforts as were being made at Hampton Beach, both by the Project and others, it is important to know what kind of impact these make on the youngster as he first approached Hampton Beach. Three comments are asked for here; probably the first and the second comments have the most weight in this instance. It was fairly obvious to the youngster in the non-arrested group that the big change on Hampton Beach was the presence of the police. Relatively few in this group noticed C.A.V. E. The younger crowd of the second wave seem a bit more sensitive to the fact that there are new rules on the beach this year. While there may be no special significance to it, it is nevertheless rather remarkable that so few remarked about the tension-level at the beach this summer.

Contrasted with the non-arrested group, it is most striking that the arrested group immediately perceives the new rules to a far greater degree than do the non-arrested youth. And they do not perceive the police in the degree that the non-arrested group does. Again, we are presented with one of those tantalizing bits of information which sets one wondering what the dynamics behind the response are. If we have been correct in supposing that there is among the arrested a degree of alienation from the family structure and that among them is a more than average amount of hostility toward the adult world, we could take this juxtaposition of responses as an indication of a genuine conflict with authority. The finding that the non-arrested group is able to perceive authority and in that context the new rules and regulations lead one to posit this as a kind of norm for a satisfactory relationship with problems and situations with authority figures. On the other hand, we have precisely the opposite effect with those youngsters we did get into trouble with the duly appointed authorities of the community. Could it be that among the arrested there is what some might call an unconscious need to be punished? A more precise analysis will be made of this situation in the summary.

What kind of programs appeal to the youngsters? What sort of activities do they really want? Motivational research as used in advertising has long-demonstrated the fact that the best approach to finding out what people really like is not necessarily the best one. Nevertheless, that is the only approach which was immediately available to us. The results obtained from this approach are not entirely satisfactory. The only definite program idea which has consistent appeal for all groups is dancing. Unfortunately, it would appear that NOTHING is a rather big drawing card also. But, this only serves to substantiate the feeling that many of the program workers had during the summer: any activity which is over-planned, and over-scheduled is not likely to succeed. The kinds of activities which succeed best in a resort community composed of youngsters seeking an abatement for the rigid scheduling of academia are those which seem to arise spontaneously.

It is apparent that young people find it difficult to focus on what they do want. When the youngsters in this survey were asked what ideas they had for summer activities, and given three opportunities to express themselves, they found it quite difficult to put any great stress on any single form of recreation or condition. Furthermore, by noticing the residual categories (those not answering) we observe that most of them had very few ideas. So, response or idea number one is the most indicative response of the group as a whole. Dancing, beach parties, and guitar playing rank highly with all groups - including the arrested. What C.A.V.E. is presently doing seems to agree favorably with a significant proportion of the group also. It seems meaningful in retrospect that so few of the young people desired less strictness on the part of the police. Advocates for planned program of athletics, or for more permissive liquor regulations will not find much comfort in these figures, either.

School and Life in General Emergent from the interviews conducted with those youngsters involved in the 1964 Labor Day Disturbance was a clear indication that considerable amounts of stress were generated in the adolescent because of his school situation. Toward the end of the summer, questions related to these matters were inserted into the "random" interview. While the sample we have is not large, we hoped by the insertion of these questions to test whether or not these same stresses were part of the sub-culture of the adolescents on Hampton Beach in the summer of 1965.

As in the case in so many of these questions, one apparently has to allow the more socially accepted attitudes to be expressed, then the frustrations and doubts seem to make themselves evident. When asked directly how they would rate education, the youngsters courteously rank it highly - with the exception of thirteen percent of the arrested. Even those young people in the arrested group aver that today's schools have their best success in the academic area. Although a majority felt they were getting a fair break in school, there did seem to be a sizeable minority who did not, and toward the end of the summer the division grows to fifty-fifty proportions, and gives more indication of dissatisfaction with schooling for perhaps two reasons: a. more young people were involved and there were thereby, greater opportunities to talk to youngsters: b. according to our earlier figures, these youngsters are younger, perhaps more closely associated with the climate of secondary education.

It would appear that there is some very real dissatisfaction with the educational scene. This is particularly true among the arrested. The arrested group felt that the schools were doing a good job academically, but apparently when it comes to them, it is the academic which is what they feel they need. Very few of the youngsters feel they are worked hard enough (challenged?). Particularly among the arrested is there conflict related to academic work. Perhaps more than any other one thing these youngsters - arrested and non-arrested alike - are worried about their future, about themselves. They worry about social recognition - even though they do not set this out as a life goal.

We should keep in mind that the school is but one element in the environment of the adolescent's world. But, it is a crucial element. One might guess that these youngsters perceive the school as that institution which either will or will not pass out the keys to the goals of happiness they are seeking. If there is conflict, certainly, the school seems to be in the middle of it for today's adolescent.

A Portrait of the Arrested Let us try in a kind of between-the-lines fashion, sketch a rough portrait of who the typical youngster arrested on Hampton Beach is.

He is aimless - seeking a good time, but probably not able to recognize a good time when one is presented to him. He really does not mean any harm in what he is doing; he is not a malicious boy.

He attaches himself to one of the larger groups of young people on the beach. Perhaps he tries to gain their acceptance by "clowning around" and making himself conspicuous in one of several ways.

He is a little less educated than the average youngster on the beach and has experienced some genuine frustration in school. He feels he could have done a lot better if he had tried, but the classes were so dull.

He makes a brief check into CAVE or one of the CAVE-sponsored activities, but only because he is looking for anything which smacks of excitement. He probably holds himself back from entering into any genuine kind of social relationships, because he feels he might fail. He would really like to become a part of the beach "society." He wants to have a good time; he spends his money freely.

He feels alienated from the world, cut off and belittled by the adults. He voices these feelings, he expresses these attitudes among his peers, and they understand him even if they cannot go along with him in his deviant expressions. His peers genuinely sympathize with him, for the most part.

There is a kind of haunting quality to his sense of injustice. All he wants is a little happiness, to be on the same footing with everyone else. It seems so easy for everyone else, but he does not quite know how to get this for himself. He sees his world in unhappy colors.

He has confidence in his physical prowess right now, but is not too sure how to handle it. He comes looking for girls, he says, but he puts himself in such a position that he finds it difficult to meet any girl. His unconscious problem with authority bothers him more than he realizes. This problem comes to the surface in his conflict over what he feels a man is. He thinks a man gets his girl, but he doesn't seem to know how. He thinks a man is a father, but he is rather disenchanted with that prospect. His only recourse seems to match his frustrations with his world together with his striving to be a man by defying the men in authority. And so he is arrested. He thereby confirms what he most feared: the "world" has picked him out of the crowd to taunt. He is still not a man.

1965 Labor Day Arrested One of the most remarkable happenings of the 1965 summer season was the fact that only twenty young people were arrested during that entire Labor Day weekend. The Beach Observation Scale describes the scene, and there will be no need to go into the details of that weekend here. The Project was able to contact ten of the arrested young people for interviews. The other ten either lived too far away from Hampton (Conn. and N.Y.) or they refused to cooperate with the interviewers.

Although we have an exceedingly small sample of young people in the Labor Day arrested group, the findings we do have give strong indication that these young people were not typical of the arrested group contacted during the summer season.

The youngster who was arrested this Labor Day was an occasional visitor or had come to Hampton Beach for the first time. He is more than likely a student and will attend school in the coming weeks. His family background places him in the middle class.

When this youngster comes to Hampton Beach, the first thing he notices is the presence of many police (unlike the seasonal arrested, he is not immediately conscious of new rules). Although he spends seven dollars or more, it would appear that he is arrested almost immediately upon arriving in Hampton. There is very little activity on their part which is reported in these interviews.

Nine out of the ten youngsters were arrested for illegal possession of alcohol, and ten out of the ten youngsters were picked up in a group of other youngsters. These groups tended to be large, but were not overly large. They seemed evenly divided as to whether or not they got their money's worth at the beach.

They seem to tend toward negative feelings about the local police and generally positive feelings about the State Police. Describing their treatment, four of them said they were treated roughly, three fairly and two had no feeling one way or the other.

There is a curious kind of reaction these youngsters have toward the adult world. Most of them have many people with whom they can talk things over. None of them suggest that adults belittle youngsters. They perceive people as knowing where they are going, as being reasonably happy. They have no specific idea as to how to change the world, or what to change in the world, or in themselves. With much greater consistency than the seasonal groups, this group "decided" that money was the prime value for the adult world. There is the possibility that among this group there is still a fairly strong orientation around their home life. For these youngsters, mother and father make the most influential decisions - with the accent on father.

They seem to be a confident group of boys, and while they have not arrived at any concrete goals in life, they feel that when they do they have a good chance to achieve these goals. They feel they get a fair break in their school life, and they are moderately satisfied with their schooling. The only note of conflict with them is that most of them feel they are not worked hard enough in school, and that the academic life is too difficult for them.

Perhaps it is because they have such limited experience with the situation at Hampton Beach that they have no real idea as to the kinds of summer programs that would be effective.

Understandably, one cannot build much of a case around ten young men. But, the indication certainly seems to be that this group which was arrested over the Labor Day Weekend of 1965 were certainly a group which shared few characteristics with the seasonal arrested group. It would also appear that these young men had fewer frustrations than the non-arrested seasonal group.