Young people are struggling, but we need more than a nod from Government to acknowledge it

From pornography to skipping meals, too many children don't know where to turn when they need help and advice

Share
Related Topics

Last week, David Cameron acknowledged that the culture of so-called 'sexting' and access to pornography among young people in Britain was problematic and needed to be addressed within a school environment. He concluded the statement, however, by saying that his comments weren't designed to 'open Pandora's box'.

I'm not entirely sure if this is a Coalition-specific issue, or whether politicians have always done this and I'm only just noticing, but there does seem to be a trend at present for appeasing voters by giving a brief nod of an acknowledgment of the challenges they face whilst doing bugger-all about it, in practical terms.

Unfortunately, as the study released today by mental health charity YoungMinds illustrated, while the government takes this tack and buries its head in the sand over the issues teenagers struggle with, our youth will bear potentially devastating consequences. Not only will they suffer mentally and emotionally, the rippling impact will affect their ability to reach their potential academically or to have the confidence to seek the kinds of jobs they are capable of and deserve, which in turn has consequences for the economy.

YoungMinds' study reveals half of 11 to 14 year olds in the UK are watching online pornography, with 4 in 10 telling us it has damaged their ability to form social relationships outside the web. Meanwhile, half of children and young adults are being bullied, 4 in 10 skip meals because of weight worries and a third don't know where to turn for help. This means either they are unaware of the facilities available to them or they aren't there in the first place.

As someone who regularly works in schools, I never cease to be amazed by the proportion of your average teacher's day that is spent addressing the pastoral challenges outlined above. This is in part owing to the increasing amount of pressure being put on school students, both by a target-driven, 'exam-factory' style education system and partly to the omnipresence of the internet, which exposes them to a constant barrage of stimulae, inappropriate content and the judgment of their peers. In this generation, teenagers who worry about being 'normal' now take to social networking sites to ask for validation, often being told they are fat, ugly, worthless and should kill themselves by trolls who get their jollies by inspiring suicidal thoughts in vulnerable people.

Whilst budgets for school counsellors and nurses in the state sector have been slashed, the burden falls upon usually unqualified teachers and parents to deal with the complicated consequences of our toxic culture, which include rising prevalence of eating disorders, self-harm and depression amongst the young.

The guidelines for sex education, which could provide a much-needed opportunity to discuss pornography and 'sexting', have not been updated for the past 50 years. State budgets for Personal, Health and Social Education are virtually non-existent. And in the meantime our Prime Minister is trying to keep the lid on 'Pandora's box' presumably because it's difficult, taboo and potentially embarrassing.

Ultimately, however unpalatable it might be to an obsessively cut-making government, what schools need is cash. Only a budget to provide resources which will give young people the resilience to navigate the world we have created for them will even begin to tackle this Goliath of an issue.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Programme Manager

£30000 - £35500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Provisioning Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Provisioning Specialist is required to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Support Engineer is required to join a well-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A portrait of Russell Brand by Nathan Wyburn using Birds Eye Mashtags, rice, peas and fish fingers  

If Russell Brand ever decided to vote, then he would vote for the Green Party

Lee Williams
 

What Lord Myners tells us about the Royal Mail sell-off shows just how good the City is at looking after itself

Chris Blackhurst
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum