AS THE WORLD TURNS: by Sue PalmerNews Weekly
, September 15, 2007
British teenagers are now officially the worst behaved in Europe.
We should be looking at what's gone so comprehensively wrong and trying to put it right. And, most critically, acknowledging that the problems start long before the teenage years.
In the process of becoming so wealthy and successful, we took our eye off the ball in terms of rearing our young.
The day-to-day personal attention needed to nurture and civilise a child disappeared - because we just didn't value it.
As a harassed mother said recently to a nursery worker I met: ''I don't have time to bring up my child.'' She's far too busy out earning the money to pay the nursery fees.
Government policy has helped this problem on its way. New Labour's twin aims were a strong economy and social justice. To achieve the former, they allowed the market to develop without restraint; to achieve the latter, they took unprecedented control of education.
In the absence of parental time and attention, the forces of marketing and education increasingly mould our children's lives and minds. Marketers are deeply interested in children.
In the past decade, they've recognised the vast potential for generating sales through pester power and ''guilt money'' (parents buying presents to compensate for their lack of presence at home).
It would be nice to think that education might counter the culture of cool by introducing children to other sources of human satisfaction - intellectual inquiry, art, music, sport - civilising and hopefully socialising them along the way.- extract from Sue Palmer, "Youth clubs won't tame the teenage yobs", The Telegraph (UK), July 27, 2007. Sue Palmer is author of Toxic Childhood: How the Modern World Is Damaging Our Children and What We Can Do About It (London: Orion, 2007). Paperback: 384 pages.