What's it like being sixteen?

Adults have had plenty to say about what 16-year-olds should and shouldn't do. Emma E Forrest asks the teenagers themselves what they think
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Hilary Waugh

Dumfries

How much money do you spend a week?

pounds 10 - from my mum and dad and from babysitting.

What was the last album you bought?

The Supernaturals' It Doesn't Matter Anymore. They're from Glasgow and they're blinding!

What is your favourite item of clothing?

My jeans - I think they are Lee Cooper.

Should 16 year olds smoke, or take drugs?

You should be able to smoke, you're old enough to make up your own mind. There aren't many 16 year olds who take drugs up here, it's just not like that. Our school is so rural and in the middle of nowhere.

Is it normal for a 16-year-old to have sex? Should you be 18 to have gay sex?

Yes, it's about right whether you're gay or straight. Again, you're old enough to make your own choices.

What is your greatest worry? Failing my exams. I have got a lot to live up to, we have several really bright people in our family.

What is your dream job?

Editor of Cosmopolitan.

Do you feel European?

Yes, I do. It could be a Scottish thing - old alliance stuff.

Which public figure do you most/least admire?

[Most] Nelson Mandela. [Least] Paul Gascoigne - he's a plonker.

What's it like to be 16?

It's a lot better than being 15, because your parents let you out past 12.30am. I didn't expect that it would make any difference, but my parents have become a lot more lenient. As I am the oldest, they now let my little sister do things I could never do when I was 14. Now I'm 16, I am allowed to stay out and go to stuff in Dumfries. There are some cool places in Dumfries. I get to go to parties and ceilidhs. The main thing is getting to go out later. That's important when you're 15.

RISHI VITHALANI

Rickmansworth

How much do you spend each week?

About pounds 20 from my parents.

Last album you bought?

Smooth Grooves, a Kiss 100 compilation.

Favourite clothes?

Jeans and jumpers - no specific item.

Should 16 year olds smoke/ take drugs?

No, I think it should be 18. It's a bad habit and I don't think that they should expose little kids to it. There isn't much ID for 16 year olds. It should be taken to 18, when there is more ID available. Drugs are wrong.

Is sex normal at 16/should it be 18 for gay sex?

Yeah, it's normal - hormones and stuff, really. It's up to yourself, really, what you wanna do.

Greatest worry?

Catching Aids - stuff like that.

Dream job?

Anything which involves loads of money. Be a manager of a branch of something.

Do you feel European?

No, not really.

Most/least admired figure?

[Most] The Queen. [Least] Prince Charles.

What's it like being 16?

Not really different from 15. There's freedom involved. But I'd rather be 18, because there's even more freedom - driving and everything.

SADAF ANSARI

North Harrow

How much do you spend each week?

About pounds 20, which comes from my parents and I work in the Shoe Express in Watford.

Last album you bought?

It was a mixed album by BabyFace.

Favourite clothes?

Not jeans - I hate jeans. I live in my black trousers. I think they are from Miss Selfridge. I don't like brand names - I don't know why, I just don't.

Should 16 year olds smoke/ take drugs?

If they want to, then yeah. But it's not very healthy. It's their choice because they're old enough. Drugs are dangerous. I don't think 16-year- olds should take them.

Is sex normal at 16/should it be 18 for gay sex?

Mmm. It's very normal because it's legal. Homosexual, heterosexual - no you shouldn't be 18. If other people can have it, why shouldn't they?

Greatest worry?

Catching some STD and dying without doing anything. I wanna get somewhere.

Dream job?

Become a lawyer, but I don't think I'll get there because there's so much racism involved. I want to through uni, because normally Asian girls don't. They get married or whatever. If it was up to my parents, I'd be married and have kids. But I wanna be at uni or doing a job somewhere.

Do you feel European?

No. Because I'm not. People don't look at me as European.

Most/least admired figure?

Least? Probably the Queen. [Most] Probably the racial equality people. People who are trying to make it better for all the Asians and the black people and stuff.

What's it like being 16?

It's a bit dodgy really because no one treats you as adults, but no one treats you as children. It's okay, though - it's better than being 13.

MISHALI ONDAHIA

Hatch End

How much do you spend each week?

About pounds 15 to pounds 20. I get it from my parents and I just got a job for the summer.

Last album you bought?

BabyFace.

Favourite clothes?

A pair of Levis and a jumper.

Should 16 year olds smoke/ take drugs?

Not really, because I just don't think it's worth it. People get into the habit and I know a lot of people who smoke - they're really addicted now. Smoking if they want, but drugs, definitely not. Forget that.

Is sex normal at 16/should it be 18 for gay sex?

It depends on the person. But it's not abnormal, I mean it's legal and everything. People should have sex with whoever they want. It shouldn't really matter. Male or female. I don't think it makes a difference.

Greatest worry?

Not getting anywhere in life. You know, when you say, "I'm going to do things I'm going to enjoy," and then it doesn't happen.

Dream job?

After uni, hopefully I'll be able to travel a lot. I want to work for a big firm, work abroad and use languages.

Do you feel European?

I'd like to think so, but people don't regard you as European. I'm into all this European stuff.

Most/least admired figure?

[Most] The equal rights people. There's a lot of racism and sexism. Person I hate: maybe John Major.

What's it like being 16?

It's in the middle. It's not that good because you're regarded in the middle. People don't think of you as old or as young. You only have freedom to an extent. Eighteen is a lot better - you've got everything, you are your own person. At 16, some people still think you're still a kid, then others think of you as older. You don't know what to decide, really.

SAM JACOBS

Romford

How much do you spend each week?

pounds 20 - from my parents.

Last album you bought?

1977 by Ash.

Favourite clothes?

These trousers, from Dickies.

Should 16 year olds smoke/ take drugs?

Yeah. There's nothing wrong with it. It's up to them if they want to ruin their lives. If they wanna smoke, if they like it, they should. I think they should legalise cannabis. Again, it's their choice.

Is sex normal at 16/should it be 18 for gay sex?

Nowadays it is, definitely. I think it should be the same age for gay sex, 16.

Greatest worry?

Getting old.

Dream job?

Earning a lot of money. Well, not necessarily earning a lot of money, but a holiday job somewhere, like in Turkey, on a resort. That'd be good. I'm going to take a year out after my A-levels and decide, perhaps go to university.

Do you feel European?

No. I'm from London.

Most/least admired figure?

I suppose George Clooney's all right. Least] Oasis, Liam Gallagher - because of his attitude to people. It's out of order. He thinks he's like God and he looks down on everyone. Just because he's a pop star and he's got money, he shouldn't treat people like they're rubbish.

What's it like being 16?

It has its ups and downs. There are some good things. I can go to clubs and that because I look older, but it's hard getting a job when you're 16 years old. You've only got your GCSEs and many people want A-levels and university degrees. You have to start from the bottom and work your way up. But, all in all, I like being 16.

RACHEL KORN

Pinner

How much do you spend each week?

About pounds 10, and I get it from my parents. I spend it on food, magazines, clothes, make-up, going out, train fares and stuff.

Last album you bought?

The Journey by 911.

Favourite clothes?

My jeans. Levis.

Should 16 year olds smoke/ take drugs?

If they want to, I don't mind. It's not up to me. The first drug you take can really damage your health. So, I think it's too dangerous for people to take them.

Is sex normal at 16/should it be 18 for gay sex?

Not where I come from. I think it depends on the area. If people are really in love and they're gay and they want to have sex, then they should be able to.

Greatest worry?

My parents dying. My family getting ill and dying. I'm really scared of that. I don't like it.

Dream job?

Beauty editor for Vogue. Get cool freebies. I'd rather do something that doesn't really use academic subjects. Something to do with media and television and stuff.

Do you feel European?

No, not really. I feel British.

Most/least admired figure?

[Most] Tom Cruise. [Least] The Spice Girls.

What's it like being 16?

It's fun. You don't really have that many worries apart from school and you can go out and party. Just go out and have fun.

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