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10 reasons to cheer our teenagers

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Mark Easton | 15:34 UK time, Monday, 14 July 2008

Reading the great British press, one might be forgiven for thinking that all our teenagers are binge-drinking, drug-addled, knife-wielding thugs ready to leap out and stab a granny for a fiver.

There is a real problem with knife-crime in some parts of the UK, let's not pretend otherwise.  And there are many other problems concerning young people in this country.

But I thought it might be timely to remind ourselves that youth doesn't necessarily mean yob.
So here are ten reasons to cheer our teenagers:

1. Teenagers are more likely to do voluntary work than people from any other generation.  In fact, they are 10 times more likely to be volunteering in our communities than regularly being antisocial in them.

2. More teenagers than ever before are staying on at school after 16 to study.

3. And more than ever are going on to further and higher education.

4. Despite the vilification, young people are far more likely to say England is a good place to grow up in (90%) than adults ( 71%).

5. And yet it is young people who are the most likely to be victims of crime.

6. They work hard at school - a record 62% of teenagers achieved 5 GCSEs grades A-C last year compared with 44% a decade earlier and 26% ten years before that.

7. Nearly two-thirds of 10-to-15-year-olds have helped raise money for charity.

8. According to English schools inspectors, bad behaviour in comprehensives is at its lowest level for at least a decade.

9. 175,000 under 18-year-olds are unpaid carers in the UK with some 13,000 providing more care than a full-time job (50+ hours).

10. In a recent survey more than nine out of ten young people said they thought their schoolwork was important and more than three-quarters enjoyed going to school.

This list doesn't mean teenagers are all little angels.  They aren't and they never have been.  But it would be a shame to demonise a social group that is actually happier, achieving at a higher level, with better health and more opportunity for travel, sport and cultural activities than any previous generation in our history.

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