Hello and welcome to The Teens' Speech blog. A place dedicated to discussing issues of significance to young people in particular and the nation as a whole.
The Teens' Speech


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

What happened to reading, writing and arithmetic?

Violence in the classroom

The Government intends to introduce mandatory classroom instruction in gender equality and violence against women and girls.

The classes in preventing violence in relationships will be compulsory for children aged five to 15 within 18 months and will be launched as a part of an official campaign to tackle violence against women and girls.

The campaign will target intimate teenage violence following recent research which showed that a quarter of teenage girls suffer physical violence such as being slapped, punched or beaten by their boyfriends, and a third of those in a relationship suffer an unwanted sexual act.

Is school the right place for this kind of instruction? We already know that our children - and their teachers - are feeling stressed and depressed enough as it is; so is this a subject too far? Do teachers have the right kind of expertise to deal with this kind of sensitive area? Should we be thinking of empowering them to do so? And what about resources - where is the money to fund this going to come from?

Government figures show that in the 2006/07 academic year there were 3,500 temporary exclusions and 140 permanent exclusions from schools in England for sexual misconduct, including incidents such as groping, using sexually insulting nicknames, daubing obscene graffiti and serious sexual attacks.

Is, then, school precisely the place where this kind of discussion needs to take place - to be told, among your peers, that sexual and physical violence toward women is totally unacceptable?

I mean, if not in school, then where?

Dumb and dumber?

"They cannot do reading. They cannot do writing."

In an outspoken and grammatically incorrect attack on young people, Sir Stuart Rose, boss of Marks & Spencers, said millions of school and college leavers are not fit for work, suggesting they didn't even have a rudimentary grasp of basic grammar or arithmetic.

In a startling demonstration of his own unique understanding of the english language, the knight of the realm was quoted as saying "They cannot do reading. They cannot do arithmetic. They cannot do writing."

He could have easily ended his speech with the apparently truthful line 'And I cannot do speaking'.

At a time when the number of 16 to 24-year-olds branded as "Neet" - not in education, employment or training - is set to top 1 million, corporations like Marks & Spencers should probably be asking how can they help young people and not just put the boot in.

But, as we've already explored, young people are the first wave of employees to be hit in times of recession. Graduate recruitment schemes are being discontinued and even young people with qualifications are finding it increasingly hard to find work.

What's wrong with being gay?

Our friend, JoeSYKE, is shocked and baffled at the prevalence of homophobia his community. Do teenagers have a problem with homosexuality, or will his generation herald a new age of tolerance?

Unfortunately, the research suggests that homophobia is an inherent problem among teenagers.

A report published 2 years ago by the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, Stonewall, revealed that 65% of young leasbian, gay and bisexual pupils have experienced direct bullying. Out of those who have been bullied, 92% experienced verbal abuse, 17% had suffered from death threats and 12% had been sexually assaulted.

It appears we still have a way to go.

But, isn't this yet another example of how teenagers mirror their parents attitudes and behaviour? Don't teenagers have a hard time accepting homosexuality because society in general does?

The odd comment on our YouTube channel bemoans the self-evident truth that teenagers are a product of our shared experience, the gist of it being "They're just repeating what they've been told - this project is a waste of time!"

Of course they are repeating what they've been told. We all do to some degree. But, the far more interesting and thought-provoking thing to take away from The Teens' Speech is that teenagers are a mirror image of ourselves and the society we've created for them.

Our teenagers are stressed, depressed, drinking, taking drugs and having unprotected, underage sex. What does that tell us about the society we've brought them into?

You thought teenagers didn't like their teachers, our survey said...

Do you think your teachers believe in you?

The stereotype of the sadistic teacher, hellbent on the systematic torture of their pupils , or the teacher who doesn't care - someone who has given up on the high ideals of imparting knowledge - doesn't appear to exist in the United Kingdom.

In a recent poll conducted exclusively by The Teens' Speech, over 70% of teenagers said that their teachers believed in them.

It seems that despite their own feelings of unhappiness and depression, teachers are continuing to do their very best for teenagers at school. I wonder whether teachers are aware of the high regard in which they are held - would it ease their stress and depression? I think it might.

Blade 376

Miles Dyer, aka Blade 376, is 22 and from South East England. Since posting his first video blog in 2006, he has attracted over 24,000 subscribers and garnered almost 600,000 visits to his YouTube channel.

I guess we all like to think we have something interesting to say, that our particular viewpoint offers a unique look at the human experience.

It's not always like that, of course.

But, Blade's story is really the story of how quick, easy video blogging technology and vibrant social networks can amplify one person's journey into something of significance and value for tens of thousands of people.

Blade is essentially making a self-shot documentary of his life - in real time. And due to the collaborative nature of the internet, his life is subject to analysis and comment on a daily basis. But, far from this being restrictive and inhibiting, it appears to have liberated him.

The support he enjoys as a result of his video blogging has empowered him to become an active participant in society; campaigning for charities (like The Teens' Speech), planning gatherings and lecturing at universities.

Inevitably, traditional media has come courting. It will be interesting to see how Blade embraces it. My instinct is that he feels most comfortable online and that he has an irrevocable connection with his audience. No matter what his future holds, I don't see him giving up on them, or them giving up on him.

A thriving relationship built on honesty, inspiration, connectedness and belief is something we can all learn from.