[COMMENT: this is a British study, but it applies pretty broadly to Western youth. On the other hand --- there is a rising number of young adults who see the devastation passed on to them by their elders, and who are looking for something solid, such as Biblical Christianity. We have an enormous harvest field out there. E. Fox]
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 gonorrhoea, 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 conservative activist and columnist. He is president of the Scout Honor Coalition and a student at Hillsdale College. .
© 2004 Hans Zeiger
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