None of the children in these pictures are connected with any of the illegal activities mentioned in this article. Photos by Jamie-James Medina.
Do you remember when you were at school and instead of doing something normal and shitty like not doing your homework or smoking or fighting you actually did something good for a change? Like helping a smaller kid with a heavy package, or passing a difficult test by working hard?
Well, remember how it felt when your good deed was overlooked by the teacher and instead you got blamed you for SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T DO? Can you remember how that felt? Being so fucking angry that you’d been found guilty when you were actually 100 percent innocent and RIGHTEOUS to boot? OUCH.
That’s what it’s like for kids when they overhear stupid, lazy, older people coming up with that pathetic and short-sighted “kids are so much worse these days than when I was their age” argument.
Despite what you probably think, the new generation of 10-17 year-olds is actually becoming a MUCH SMARTER, more responsible group of human beings than the generation of loser drug-addicted older brothers and sisters and sloppy, fat, lazy parents who burned all their brains out on heroin and ecstasy in the 80s and 90s.
Still don’t believe me? Here are some FACTS:
• Teenage pregnancy is down for the fifth year in succession and down 10 percent since 1998. A spokesman for the National Health Service told us how focus groups on teen pregnancy had recently found that: “Today’s girls would rather get a job than get pregnant. They don’t want to be on the dole, buying nappies and dummies. They want a decent job, they want picture mobiles.”
• Kids are taking less Class A drugs than their parents and older siblings ever did. Instead they’re selling them to older idiots so they don’t have to rely on handouts from mummy, daddy or the government.
• Kids have access to roughly 76.891 percent more information and knowledge about communication devices than they did ten years ago and they’re all utilising it for the positive—whether that’s Roll Deep’s Wiley selling more than 40,000 records out of the back of his car last year (using the internet and pirate radio to promote it) or using Microsoft Instant Messenger to swap dubplates.
• Only 1 in 50 kids trust the words of vicars or priests when it comes to sex. On the other hand, 4 out 5 trust older brothers and sisters to pass on the information they need.
• The number of teenage criminal offences in the UK has fallen from 143,000 a year in 1992 to 112,000 a year. OK?
So isn’t it weird that despite the fact kids are taking responsibility for their own actions and not being pathetic, self-righteous slime like their parents or teachers, the UK government is actually imprisoning more children (aged 10-17) than ever before.
Also, (according to crime reduction charity NACRO), the rate at which England and Wales imprisons children is four times higher than France, ten times higher than Spain and—HOLY SHIT—100 times higher than Finland.
As a recent article in The Economist (“Crime School”) told us: “The nine-fold increase over the past decade of imprisonment of those aged 10-15 is particularly worrying. Other countries seem to manage without locking children up in such large numbers and at least try to tackle the underlying causes. It is a shame that Britain does not.”
And it is worrying. Do you know anybody who was sent to prison when they were a teenager? I did. I knew about 15 kids and guess what, right now, they’re still in there, having either become hardened criminals, chronic heroin addicts or, in one case (and this is the kid who gave me my first ever beating at the age of eight) serving time for murder after a life brutalised by prison officers and fellow inmates. The last time I saw him across a courtroom he didn’t even recognise me. (I counted him as an almost-BFF for ten years.)
What is the government trying to do? Create a nation of perpetually guilt-ridden, angry children who—thanks to the crazily over-the-top new Anti-Social Behaviour Bill—risk imprisonment for low-grade crimes like graffiti, repeat litter-dropping, riding a bicycle on the pavement or gathering on street corners in gangs of more than two or three people?
I mean, if a kid’s going to stab me then he deserves to get into trouble, but standing on a street corner with his best friends? How are you going to arrest someone for that?
Like the A.R.E Weapons song “Hey World” goes: “Hey old world / this is a message to you / Being a kid’s not a crime / You’re going to fuck up some time / Don’t act like you know what they’re going through / It was different for you / It’s a new world that’s what I’m saying”