'Worst in Europe’, squeals the media with delight today. According to a report by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) released in the usual way, (i.e. leaked to the BBC), our young people excel at just one thing - badness. They drink more, get into more fights and have more sex than their peers in
Also out today is a report by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and youth offending charity NACRO (leaked to absolutely everyone a week before its official launch), suggesting that ASBOs are fairly useless as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour. Young people seem to find them a desirable thing to have, ‘a badge of honour’ according to the report. It’s a bit like chicken pox it seems - not much fun to start with but much worse if you’re the only poor sod who hasn’t got it. Some children even celebrate because the ‘exclusion zone’ defined by their ASBO takes in the location of their school. There is some incentive there is there not? Cue total polarisation as the bring back the birch brigade blame selfish, narcissistic parenting and da yoof workers scream for more money to build snooker clubs and take busloads of teens on self-esteem building trips to Alton Towers.
Where do you start unpacking all of this? Let’s look first at the ‘badness’ indicators identified in the IPPR report which examined the lifestyles of fifteen year olds. Our young people drink and take more drugs, get into more fights and have sex earlier than their peers in
First off let me just say that, having grown up in an Italian neighbourhood in
The IPPR found an ‘increasing disconnect’ between children and adults which they wildly concluded ‘has left British teenagers increasingly vulnerable to failure’. Wah? How do they work that out? Here’s the thing – once you enter secondary school, you do not need your parents for anything except money and as a permanent reminder that you should leave home at the very first opportunity if you wish to remain sane. You will come to appreciate them at about thirty-five and see that they were right about most things, but in the meantime, you have an awful lot of living to do and a great many of your own mistakes to make. You are perfectly capable of discerning right from wrong as society ordains it but, as the new generation, it is your job to push those boundaries as far as they can feasibly go without civilisation as we know it collapsing. In short, it is your duty to tear the world a new arse hole. No es la ciencia
All this cojones about adults not knowing how to parent and children not knowing how to behave is pure obfuscation. Yes there are vulnerable children and dysfunctional families but more than at any other time in history? I don’t think so. Has it occurred to no one that poverty and the rapidly increasing gap between the haves and have nots might be playing a part? The report claims that British kids are even more enthusiastic about consumerism than American kids – and they were brought up in shopping malls! Our kids are more ‘brand aware’ and place a higher value on goods and possessions. Is this the fault of parents and children? Anyone want to be the first to embrace ethical marketing – Nike? McDonald’s? Mattel? Anyone?
I blame a lack of decent role models today. What use the wimpy Cold Play or goody-goody Beyoncé? They couldn’t get arrested, quite literally. Where are the Timothy Learys, the Janis Joplins, the Jimi Hendrixes, the Jim Morrisons, the Rolling Stonesies? The popsters of today are all drinking Krug with Tony Blair or Evian on their Stairmasters rather than rolling spliffs in the toilets of Buck House and exposing themselves on stage. Young people simply don’t have anything to aspire to. Actors in
Lovely commemorative flag from www.chavscum.co.uk