A new study by the
British Medical Association finds that young people in Great Britain are
living dangerously when it comes to eating, drinking, mental health, drugs,
and sex. The frightening report reveals a burgeoning youth culture that is
high on risk and low on character.
The report found that one fifth of British adolescents aged 13 to 16 are
overweight or obese. One in four 15 and 16 year olds smoke regularly, and
one in five use drugs. Youth alcohol consumption now ranks among the highest
in Europe, and binge drinking is becoming a serious problem. One in five
teens has a psychological problem, such as depression, eating disorders,
self-harm, and neurosis. One in ten girls aged 16 to 19 have the sexually
transmitted disease chlamydia that can lead to infertility.
Dr. Russell Viner, a London adolescent health doctor and a contributor to
the report, wrote, "This generation will be the most infertile and most obese
in the history of mankind and it might also have the worst mental health."
Authors of the BMA report on adolescent health see the unavoidable health
challenges of the next generation, and they introduce a variety of solutions.
But many of the proposed solutions are reciprocal to exacerbating the problems.
The report proposes that health care should be made more readily available
to deal with the declining health of Britain's Generation Y, that the media
should send more positive messages about health, that schools should place
more emphasis on sex education and drug resistance training.
"Access to services is key," BMA head of science and ethics Vivienne Nathanson
told newspapers. "We need school-based services, drop-in clinics, services
that are approachable for young people." Government-provided health care
and education seem to satisfy the BMA's search for answers to the youth crisis.
Interestingly, the British social services bureaucracy is already bursting
with services for youth.
England has better access to health care than ever before. For example, three-quarters
of all abortions in Britain are paid for by the National Health Service,
making abortion easily accessible for teens. In 2000, nearly 176,000 abortions
were performed in England and Wales. And according to Britain's leading provider
of abortions, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, 21 percent of abortions
are performed on females under 19 years old.
In an effort to cut down on sexually transmitted diseases, British schools
have dramatically increased funding and resources for sex education since
1996, when parliament passed an act requiring sex education for "all pupils."
Despite (perhaps because of) the increase in sex education, sexually transmitted
diseases have increased rapidly. Between 1995 and 2000, reported diagnoses
of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia more than doubled in Great Britain.
The experts say that adults must do more to boost adolescents' self-esteem
and give them a sense of belonging. But they ignore the fact that today the
cultural institutions of England are more supportive and "inclusive" of youth
than ever before. Britain's Scout Association, formerly known as the Boy
Scouts, now permits females and open homosexuals to join troops as members
and leaders. Official Scout policies encourage Scout leaders to respect the
privacy of sexually promiscuous children. "When two young people do form
an emotional attachment, Leaders should both support their need for some
privacy together as well as help them to remember their other friends, who
may feel rejected by the couple," says a Scout policy guide.
Having seen the starkly dangerous lifestyle of England's Generation Y, the
experts have announced that the answers lie in better access to health care,
more government social services and counseling, better sex education, public
service advertising campaigns, greater availability of contraception and
abortion, and increased self esteem and inclusiveness in general.
Of course, these things are already in place. So we need more, more, more.
More condoms. More psychologists. More curricula. More tolerance.
But preventative habits and moral conduct -- self-control and personal responsibility
-- aren't even mentioned in the BMA report.
What we see in Great Britain is a radical liberation of the flesh. But there
are consequences in this generation, the least of which are mental illness,
drug use, animalistic sex, drug use, obesity, and binge drinking. The greatest
consequence is the rotting of the human spirit.
The next generation of Britons is proving itself quite degenerate, quite
indulgent in the things of the flesh. So long as the things of the spirit
are ignored and neglected, Britain will be without hope. As General Douglas
MacArthur said, "It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh."
Hans Zeiger is a Seattle Times
columnist and conservative activist. He is president of the Scout Honor Coalition
and a student at Hillsdale College in Michigan.