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The Teens' Speech


On Christmas Day this year, teenage Britain delivered its own message to the nation. Find out more


Meet Hatti. Since joining YouTube in March 2007, her YouTube channel has enlisted 3,154 subscribers and received nearly 58,000 channel views. She is also supporting The Teens' Speech.

In a short and sweet video clip, Hatti talks with some feeling about the influence the internet has had on her relationships - both friends and family.

For example, the idea of connecting with people online and forming meaningful relationships with them is completely natural to her. In fact, she met her current boyfriend through the medium.

According to research published in October, Hatti is part of a new culture of technology users who are living 'hybrid lives'; communicating and networking in a more advanced way than previous generations. They can't live without the internet - its a place where they feel most comfortable. This is actually borne out by some of the relaxed and open honesty exhibited in the videos posted to our YouTube Teens' Speech channel.

When asked to comment on the research, the Government Advisor on Children and Technology, Professor Tanya Byron, said "...it's essential the adults and organisations that provide support to this age group...offer services that are easily accessible through the internet."

Hatti agrees. In her clip, she says that if she needed advice she would first go to her friends, then Google and as a last resort, her parents.

And speaking of Google, it was Eric Schmidt, its chief executive, who recently put these digital natives into a wider economic context.

When asked what he thought the web would look like in five years, he said, "Talk to a teenager about how they consume media and remember in five years they'll be your employee."

So, it seems that future generations will more technically sophisticated than ever before. I guess it remains to be seen how quickly the rest of us adapt to their needs.

What it feels like for a girl

This week on The Teens' Speech, we're talking about relationships. A subject that might initially conjure sweet reminiscences of first kisses and bittersweet pangs of romantic yearning, but upon closer scrutiny, reveals an altogether darker, more complex issue.

Research published in September 2009 revealed a third of teenage girls in a relationship suffer unwanted sexual acts and a quarter physical violence.

And according to a study of 14- to 21-year-olds by the women's rights group Engender, one in three girls and one in two boys thought there were circumstances in which it could be acceptable to hit a woman or force her to have sex.

Professor David Berridge, Professor of Child and Family Welfare at Bristol University, recently commented: "The high rate and harmful impact of violence in teenagers' intimate relationships, especially for girls, is appalling. It was shocking to find that exploitation and violence in relationships starts so young. This is a serious issue that must be given higher priority by policy makers and professionals."

Too right, mate. It definitely needs looking at. But, the unanswered question that overshadows this whole problem is 'why?'.

Why do young boys think that violence is an acceptable means to getting what they want? Who told them it was ok? Perhaps, more pertinently, who told them it wasn't?

A study by the Department for Children, Schools and Families' in 2006 found three-quarters of 11-to- 14-year-olds wished it was easier to talk to their parents about sex. But, more than half of parents (55%) held back from talking about sex, the survey suggests, because of embarrassment about how to start.

Is it really possible that a personal sense of embarrassment in talking about sex is contributing to the suffering of young girls? Do our closest interpersonal relationships really have a direct effect on the overall well-being of the nation?

We can't be expected to take responsibility for the welfare of all children - can we?

Whose child now?

Thousands of girls and boys are at risk of organised trafficking

Children as young as 10 are being moved around the UK to be sexually exploited at parties organised by paedophiles.

In their report, Whose Child Now?, Barnardo's says that thousands of girls and boys are at risk of organised trafficking, and that the vast majority of local authorities do not provide expert help for at-risk children.