02 November 2006

Lock up your daughters (and sons)...

British teenagers are officially the worst in Europe. Too much drinking and sex, not enough sitting around the table eating with mum and dad means our kids have an "increasing disconnect" with the adult population. They're too busy hanging out on the streets, trying to earn ASBOs, to have time to join the scouts, the local opera society or even the Young Conservatives.

The idea of gangs of feral children threatening the fabric of society is at least as old as the idea of the teenager. And there's nothing like demonsing children to give the Daily Mail's readers the thrill of fearing that we really are witnessing the end of society, after all those headlines of false dawns. We're told the answer is more formal, structured activities where teenagers can interact with adults, and so learn to to fit into the adult world instead of just getting in its way.

Here's another answer: how about not creating a climate of fear of child rapists lurking in every corner? How about not blowing out of all proportion the risk to children from unknown adults? Then maybe more adults would feel encouraged to participate in youth group activity with kids that aren't their own without the suspicion that they are sex criminals. That might actually encourage the establishment of more places for kids to learn how to grow up.

Probably not the sort of suggestion you'll read much about in the press. But that's the problem with journalists - they stay out late drinking, are obsessed with sex and suffer an "increasing disconnect" with grown up society. I blame the parents.

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