Katy Guest: Hands off our teenagers. We need the shopping done

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It's not fair. Nobody understands. Life as a teenager is rubbish. They didn't ask to be born. And last week, like so many others, proved to be a pretty depressing one for Britain's teenagers. They were pilloried, degraded, let down and attacked. Oh, and now it turns out that they're dying out. You can't really blame them for sulking.

First came a report from the Children's Society, which claimed that lazy British teenagers don't do their chores: 35 per cent of 11-to-16 year-olds have never cooked a meal, it said and 92 per cent have not done the household shopping. More than three-quarters have never loaded a washing machine. (I suspect that they also tried asking men over 50 how many had ever loaded a washing machine, but it took too long to explain to them what a washing machine was.)

So, parents are keeping their offspring in a state of near-total dependence, which means that they'll never stand a chance of looking after themselves. But, as it happens, that might not really be a problem. Another report last week revealed that the average age of a first-time buyer who has not had parental help with a deposit to buy a home is 38. Today's teenagers are never going to be able to leave home anyway, so why should they bother to learn how to cook lasagne or wash their own socks?

After the "emergency" Budget, it seems that they won't be able to go to university, either. Institutions have warned that tuition fees are likely to go up and that student numbers will fall dramatically as nobody can afford higher education any more. If there's one thing to get a child through years of parental nagging and a mind-bending school workload it is the distant promise of three-plus years of drinking, dossing and dressing up in ludicrous tailcoats for a night on the rampage with Boris and Gideon and some other little oik from St Paul's. That, and the odd cheese toastie. But for today's teenagers, even managing the Breville is all a bit much, we now know. Is there nothing left to live for?

The Noughties, so promisingly named, have turned out to be the Not-muches. So it's no surprise to read that the 15-24 age group is set to decrease by five per cent over the next five years, apparently as a result of late 1970s "baby slumpers" growing up all evangelical about contraception and having fewer children. Those who are left might as well go to their bedrooms and slam the doors now. There's no point looking for sympathy. Nobody, literally nobody, cares.

But before they go all Richey Manic, there was one piece of good news for teenagers last week. On Friday, the Council of Europe finally met to discuss banning the controversial Mosquito devices that prevent children from congregating by making a high frequency sound that, like, totally messes with their heads, man. The council has called the tactic "degrading and discriminatory". Shami Chakrabarti of the human rights group Liberty said: "What type of society uses a low-level sonic weapon on its children?" Now, it's all very well using a Mosquito iPhone app to scare off the obnoxious brat who's about to run over your foot for the 15th time with his scooter on a bus, but even a misanthropic child-hater like me wouldn't use torture to bar teenagers at random from public places.

A ban on Mosquitos would be a long-overdue step towards redressing a culture that insults and rejects an entire generation simply on the grounds of age. And treating teenagers with respect might even make them nicer people. After all, how are they supposed to do the household shopping if they can't even get to the high street without their heads imploding?

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