testimony : 'I lost my virginity at 14, too'

The film Kids has shocked adults. Eleanor Brown, a London teenager, gives her view
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Indy Lifestyle Online
When I was 12, hanging out with skate-boarders was the cool thing to do and I recognised a lot of the attitudes of the skaters in the film. On your own you are just a 13-year-old child, but being in a big group gives you the guts to do what you wouldn't usually dare to do; you've got masses of back-up if anyone tries to mess with you. You could be spotted stuffing things down your shirt in a shop but it wouldn't matter because there would be so many of you.

"When you are that young your parents think the situation is more innocent than it is; it's not until you're 15 or so that they start pulling in the reins. I remember the joy of telling my parents that I would be staying at a friend's house, when in fact the only people there would be kids my own age throwing a party, getting drunk and puking up in the bath. The party scene in the film, where the kids are all out cold on the floor amidst bottles and ashtrays, was very familiar. If you didn't know whose party it was, your aim became to wreck the house, terrible things like leaving graffiti on the nice wallpaper.

"Girls came across as quite stupid in the film, they just seem to be there for shagging, in fact the film wasn't about girls at all, it was a male-bonding film. In my experience, girls at that age were just as up for everything as anyone else and being good wasn't rated. The more you could drink, the more drugs you could do the cooler you were, but having sex wasn't the done thing, there wasn't this "I've got to got laid" business. I lost my virginity at 14, but I remember telling him that I was 19 because I didn't want him to assume that I was a stupid kid. We were kissing on his bed at his house on our second date and I remember asking him, "So are we gonna have sex or what?" and he said "Yeah, I suppose so." Afterwards I was surprised to learn that a lot of people who I thought had lost their virginity actually hadn't, and I felt quite isolated.

"Knowing that a girl was a virgin wouldn't have been such a big deal for boys; in fact, sleeping with someone older who had loads of experience was what they wanted. If all you want to do is get as off-your-face as possible then perhaps the idea of the purity of a virgin is quite refreshing, but I thought the boys' attitude towards virgins was quite disgusting.

"One bit of the film that really reminded me of what it was like at that age was when one of the guys starts really going for a girl in a swimming pool in quite an aggressive way; the fear that a situation could turn nasty and the need to do something about it was familiar. I remember a very good friend of mine passed out at a party when she was 14 and woke up with a guy having sex with her. It really freaked her out so she told the police that she had been raped, but the policeman shrugged it off with an "Oh you know what young boys are like," even after another girl told them that the same boy had done the same thing to her. A lot of people shared the policeman's attitude and some girls ended up blaming themselves.

"Everyone I know is frightened of HIV. I know that I can stop abusing my body any time, that I'm in control, but the thought that one stupid night can take that away from me is horrible. Getting pregnant isn't the problem since everyone is on the Pill and at the end of the day you can abort a baby, but you can't take a disease out of your body. It's the done thing for boys to carry condoms, and most girls would expect it, but I suppose if a boy didn't produce one only 50 per cent of the girls would say anything. Aids frightens me a lot, not because it might kill me, because after all I take drugs and could get hit by a bus, it's more the thought that I wouldn't be able to have children.

"I think it's hilarious that all my friends' little brothers and sisters are exactly the same as we were at that age, nicking our beer and our spliff. I remember getting a spliff with a friend of mine and practising how to smoke it without coughing our guts up so we'd be able to look like we knew what we are doing in public. If I had a 13-year-old daughter I would just be really honest about things that I had done.

"The big difference between the kids in the film and the kids I know is firstly our attitude to sex, because we are a lot more aware of HIV, and secondly that we take more drugs. The rave culture is so big now that people are having less sex - they are taking pills instead. But nevertheless teenagers will be teenagers wherever they live. As my mum says, although things have changed on the surface, the same feelings still remain. Sometimes I feel like telling young kids to carry on enjoying being kids rather than trying to grow up too quickly."

8 Eleanor is 18 and grew up in Peckham. She was interviewed by Katie Sampson.

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