How Britain is Eating Its Young
By Maria Hampton / Adbusters
The UN’s first ever report on the state of childhood in the industrialized West made unpleasant reading for many of the world’s richest nations. But none found it quite so hard to swallow as the Brits, who, old jokes about English cooking aside, discovered that they were eating their own young.
According to the Unicef report, which measured 40 indicators of quality of life – including the strength of relationships with friends and family, educational achievements and personal aspirations, and exposure to drinking, drug taking and other risky behavior – British children have the most miserable upbringing in the developed world. American children come next, second from the bottom.
The report confirmed many people’s suspicions about the “British disease,” in the process raising doubts about the Anglo-American model of progress in general. As the older but also weaker partner, Britain may well serve to warn a host of nations following closely behind on its path. While an aging, ever more crowded Europe looks on anxiously at the stress behavior currently being exhibited by its own dysfunctional young – be it Parisian car barbecues or riots in Denmark and Germany – our continental cousins can’t help but notice that many of these behaviors debuted in Anglo-American cultures. The report explicitly demonstrated that, at least on this side of the Atlantic, the British are trailblazers of generational instability and social deterioration. On the whole, British children were more disconnected from their families, with nearly half of 15-year-old boys spending most nights out with friends, compared to just 17 percent of their French counterparts. Forty percent of UK youth had sex before age 15, compared with 15 percent of Polish teens. They drank nearly four times as much as the Italians, and, perhaps most saliently, had the lowest sense of subjective well-being among all the youth surveyed.