Teen Voices: Kaytee, 15, on the generation gap

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The Independent Online

My parents had a very different upbringing to what I have today... it's like we grew up in parallel universes. They were from Ireland, and grew up in secure homes, in the middle of the countryside with no cares in the world. I live in inner-city Birmingham, and with peer pressure, school stress and lots of other things to deal with, I think that I have a much tougher life than they had.

Times have definitely changed. We have a lot of responsibility as teenagers, and we have to act like adults. It depends on where you have grown up and who you hang around with, but I think most people start drinking alcohol around the age of 13 and lose their virginity around the age of 14. There isn't a definite age that most people try drugs. I am nearly 16 years old and I have never tried any, but I know plenty of people who have. This really depends on who you hang around with and how much will-power you have to say no.

Most teenagers have part-time jobs, which creates responsibility and the premature need to behave in an adult way. I've been working since I was about 13 (I look older than I am, and can lie about my age) but most teens start at around 15.

I think that a lot of teenagers are discriminated against wrongly by adults. A few days ago I was on my way home in a rush because I was late, it was very dark and I was running. I ran past a middle-aged woman, and as I went past I brushed her shoulder. She let out a scream and grabbed a tight hold of her handbag. I found this really funny; she thought I was going to mug her.

We need to have a certain level of trust put in us. We need to feel wanted and important, and not constantly targeted and victimised by the media. After all, if the media is constantly attacking teens and branding them as thugs, then that is the way we will act.

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