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British teenagers are 'worst behaved' in Europe
By LAURA ROBERTS 2nd November 2006
British teenagers are the worst behaved in Europe, according to new research. Fifteen-year-olds in the UK are more likely to get drunk, act aggressively and be sexually active than their peers on the continent.
The statistics collected by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), Tony Blair's favourite think-tank, will be presented in a report to the Government next week.
It will state that 27 per cent of British teens are regularly drunk, the highest in Europe. That compares with just three per cent of French teenagers and five per cent in Italy.
British teenagers are also the most aggressive with 44 per cent having been involved in a fight in the last year.
German teenagers are the least aggressive with 28 per cent involved in some sort of fracas over the last year.
With the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe Britain is also the most sexually active. In France only 22 per cent of teens have had sex compared with 38 per cent in the UK.
Researchers claim teenagers in Britain are more out of control because they have less contact with adults, particularly parents, than in the rest of Europe.
Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR, said that our teens are "disconnected" from adults around them. As a result they lack the "soft social skills" displayed by teens in Europe who spend more time in the company of adults.
Teens from traditional nuclear families are more likely to succeed and avoid trouble than teens from single parent unit or even families where the parents cohabit.
British teens spend less time in the company of parents and other adults due to cultural differences compared to the continent. Whereas Italian, French or German teenagers eat regularly with their families and spend more time in mixed-age company British children are left to their own devices and often eat at separate times to adults.
In Italy only seven per cent of 15-year-olds don't eat regularly with their parents whereas that figure is 36 per cent in the UK. In contrast 45 per cent of teens in England, and 59 per cent in Scotland, are out with friends every night.
As a result teenagers socialise with other children their age but miss out on developing the social skills acquired when spending time with adults. Structured activities organised by adilts such as scouts groups or drama societies, which were popular in the 1950s, are now shunned by teenagers in favour of hanging out in youth clubs.
The researchers say that children who spend less time with their parents are more likely to commit antisocial behaviour.
The spokesman added: "Children from a nuclear family are on average more likely to succeed according to statistics. What matters is what happens within the family. It's about being interested in their education and in talking to their children."
The report says that changes in the family, local communities and the economy have combined to cause "deep inequalities in the transition to modern adult life and leave increasing numbers of young people incapable of growing up safely and successfully".
Now it seems that teenagers don't need time with their friends but time with adults. A spokesman for IPPR said: "There is nothing genetically different about British teens to make them behave like this. They need more structured time in the company of adults, working towards a goal in order to pick up these skills."
The report also shows that participation in structured youth activities is better for young people than unstructured youth clubs. It suggests that activities like the Scouts or drama groups are beneficial for teaching children to interact with adults.
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