What the hell happened? One minute I’m playing doctors and nurses in a
plastic outfit free with Twinkle, the next I’m being offered coke at an
ad industry do.
Well, not quite the next minute. But the 25 years in between passed
like a drug-induced dream. Being young today means virtually shimmying
out of your playpen straight into a drug den, apparently.
Last week’s media was full of it: revelations of underage sex, spliffs
behind the bike sheds, teen media accused of egging them on. A Guardian
survey reveals that nearly one in four 15-year-olds has taken drugs and
had sexual intercourse, and almost half of 13- to 15-year-olds has been
The grown-ups are outraged. Quite right too. Kids these days are having
so much fun, we’re all jealous. As A. A. Gill (of the Sunday Times) put
it at a Guardian debate on youth last week: ‘The only people who have a
problem with the young are people that aren’t.’
Enter Peter Luff MP, who rehashed his arguments for age classifications
on the front of teen magazines.
Luff’s crusade aims to help parents protect their children from advice
on how to give blow jobs. Presumably, Luff was happier when girls read
Jackie and were led to believe that if a boy asked them out it was
because he loved them, not because he wanted a blow job.
With teenage daughters of his own, you wonder how Luff could be so damn
quaint. Then again, it’s not so hard to see why old farts believe that
most teenagers are vulnerable little souls in need of cotton wool
protection: it’s other old farts who determine how the youth are
portrayed in mainstream media. TV rules mean that sex, drugs, ciggies
and alcohol can only be included in an educational context.
Get real. Until the regulators take a more realistic approach, we’ll all
have a pretty misguided view of what being young means in the 90s. And
that’s as dangerous for the teenagers as it is for the credibility of