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Britain’s young jilted generation

SOME PEOPLE would have you believe that young people today are lazy and that they don’t care about education. Adverts tell young people how terrible their life will be without the right shoes, deodorant or iPhone. Teachers and celebrities tell us that there is a world full of opportunities and it’s our own fault if we don’t become entrepreneurs or millionaires.
But the reality of being young is very different from the stereotypes.
Youth unemployment stands at 20 per cent with nearly one million under-25s officially unemployed. We are often the first to be made redundant and the last ones to be employed.

Youth get less unemployment and housing benefit. We are forced into unpaid work experience or repetitive and depressing courses, otherwise we lose our benefits.

Those who manage to get employment often find themselves facing worse pay and conditions than older co-workers, and are frequently dumped on temporary and zero-hour contracts. Trade unions often fail to recruit or fight for young workers. Trade union leaders have also signed up to pension deals that have worsened provision for younger workers.
The Tories want to raise the age at which young people can leave school from 16 to 18, making teenagers increasingly dependent on their family. The combination of the difficulty of getting benefits while at school, the abolition of EMA, and the fact that the minimum wage is lower if you’re under 18, makes it almost impossible to be self-sufficient and effectively traps young people in their family.

This makes it incredibly difficult for young people to escape situations of domestic abuse and violence.

About 100,000 young people run away from home every year, fleeing violence, rape, and psychological abuse. Across the country, Crisis Centres, which give free legal advice and support to victims of abuse and rape, are being shut down; councils are cutting youth and children services. Large numbers of young people suffer mental health problems with about 80,000 suffering serious depression, which often goes untreated (95% of all children in prison suffer from mental health disorders). But mental health services for young people are also being slashed.

Then after cutting youth services and centres, forcing us to stay at home or failing to treat our illnesses, the state punishes us for hanging about in groups on the street with dispersal orders and ASBOs. And ff there’s no youth centres in your area, and if going to the cinema or a leisure centre is too expensive, then where are we meant to hang out except for the parks and the streets?

This condescending attitude extends to sex as well, with Tory MP Tim Loughton recently saying the government should punish under-16s who have consensual sex. Apparently all young people must remain chaste and pure, because obviously we are too stupid to understand how a condom works or know when we are being taken advantage of.

Young people are relegated to being second-class citizens because capitalism can’t afford to pay us a decent wage, provide a good free education system or fund services.

The government and bosses portray us as stupid, violent and reckless, incapable of taking advantage of this world of opportunities, so they can justify putting us on the scrap-heap, paying us less, and regulating our lives through the police, the family and the schools.

Young people and workers face the same enemies, we can’t let the bosses, the presses and the trade union bureaucrats divide us against each other. United we can win our struggles for better treatment, better services, and a better world for everyone.

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