Kicking our audience
"It's time to bring back the cane!"
No, not the view of a crusty colonel from the home counties in response to this week's news that British teenagers are just about the most badly behaved in Europe. That's Chloe's view - a teenager herself - who argued on our website that borstals and tough prisons work as well as corporal punishment. Teenagers need to show more respect, she argues, and if she is out of order with her parents she knows she can expect a slap.
Plenty of people had their say on this: Bear in mind our audience are both teenagers and twentysomethings - so we're not talking about a big generation gap here. Our reporters, our text response and our online talking point at Newsbeat were deluged with views. Many teenagers complained there was little for them to do, so it's hardly surprising they get into scrapes. Our twentysomethings tended to be more critical - blaming bad parenting, relaxed licensing laws and social factors such as being born into poverty or the breakdown of traditional family units.
Our teenagers were much more split in their views. There were many who argued that adults, "should leave them alone/get off their backs". Dave told us that he's a binge drinker and loves it. All had stories of Saturday night fights after the binging went bad. Others were critical of us media types, researchers and others who lump teenagers into one group of evil, snarling, aggressive, hard drinking and drug taking hoodies. Plenty of people to point out that there's a lot of good behaviour around - voluntary work - caring for sick and elderly relatives and much more teenage 'respect' than the government gives them credit for.
Lots of intelligent solutions too, from better diet to parenting classes to investment in youth and sports clubs.
Did we feel uncomfortable covering this story given our audience was coming in for a pasting? Someone asked me if this was the sort of story the rest of BBC News could happily cover but that we might want to shy away from, for fear of upsetting our audience or patronising them. The level of debate and engagement from our teenage listeners proves that wrong, I think - and say what you like about today's teenagers, but they're willing to join the debate about all aspects of modern life in Britain.
Last word to Chloe: "We're not all bad but those of us who understand manners and courtesy get blacked out by those who don't."