Teen troubles target Britain

July 20th, 2008 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown

London, July 20 (IANS) One out of five British kids neither study nor do jobs. One in 10 have sex chats online. And many parents cannot ban adult or child pornography sites at home. That just about sums up the Gen-X situation in the country today. Quality of teen life in Britain has been the subject of major surveys this week and, if the figures are any indication, Britain is on the threshold of a societal black hole.

A survey by the London School of Economics shows that 18 percent of British teenagers are NEETs (Neither in Employment, Education or Training). Official figures put it around seven percent.

Teenager Helen Steward tells BBC, which ran the survey highlights, how she came to be a NEET: “Out of my whole year, there was about 100 of us, and 30 to 40, like myself, were not in employment, further education or any kind of training, just not doing anything with their lives, just sitting at home doing nothing.”

The government is putting efforts into reducing NEETs after Prime Minister Gordon Brown told 16 and 17-year-olds that “doing nothing” was not an option. Children’s Minister Beverley Hughes says: “We are making preparations now for every young person of 16 to 17 to be in education or training.”

Richard Weiner, an education and skills advisor, says: “If these young people don’t have the skills and abilities that their potential employers are going to need, then they are not going to get jobs and that’s going to lead to real social and economic problems.”

Welfare groups worry that idleness among youth is the biggest factor contributing to rising crime, gangs, drug-taking and is also leading to mental disorders among teenagers. Sexual crimes and accessing adult websites are the other, more serious, fallouts.

The annual Mobile Life report, which was commissioned by the Carphone Warehouse and the London School of Economics, claims that more than 10 percent of British children are having sexually explicit conversations online. And their parents do not know.

The report says 11 percent of children aged 11 to 18 have had sexually explicit conversations online. And 28 percent have admitted that they have accessed adult websites, reports The Telegraph.

The report also highlighted how parents are completely unaware of what their children are viewing online, which, as well as looking at porn sites, can also be talking to strangers online.

Kids admitted that they will sometimes pretend to be doing their homework while they are, in fact, surfing the web, with 49 percent saying they lie to their parents about what they are doing online.

Tanya Byron, who contributed to the report as well as being the author of a government-sponsored report that looked into childrens’ safety online, says that this latest survey highlights how parents need educating.

“I think the key is for parents to treat the issue of online safety in the same way that they would approach other potential danger areas. Would you let your children learn how to cross the road via trial and error?”

However, the parents themselves are in a bind. Almost a million households in Britain can access adult or child pornography websites.

Around five percent of consumer broadband connections can access the images because their internet service providers (ISPs) chose not to subscribe to a scheme introduced by the Internet Watch Foundation to bar known paedophile websites.

The list is available to all ISPs and companies such as BT and Vodafone have signed up to take it. Updated twice daily, it contains between 800 and 1,200 live child-abuse websites at any one time. But the revelation that some internet companies are refusing to sign up to the list undermines a key government pledge to tackle paedophile material on the internet.

A coalition of leading children’s charities, including Barnardo’s, the NSPCC and National Children’s Homes, has described the situation as “completely unacceptable”. They have written to minister in charge of crime reduction Vernon Coaker, urging him to take immediate steps to ensure that all telecom companies offering internet access block customers from being able to see sexually explicit images or chat on adult sites.

Related Stories

    Posted in Uncategorized |