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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 18:58 GMT
Do UK youngsters get a raw deal?
Kevin and Perry
Teenagers deny they are as surly and miserable as Kevin and Perry
The UK has come bottom of an international league table of children's well-being. But two teenagers told the BBC News website not all young people are uneducated, unhappy and unhealthy.

Sam Bidder, 17, says he enjoys life in Shrewsbury, has 12 GCSEs and does not drink alcohol.

"Can I just stand up for the kids for once? I had a brilliant childhood and it's the same with my friends," he said.

"Once more the small minority or thuggish youths have tainted the 99.99% of young people who are decent upstanding citizens.

"You don't see us because we aren't hanging round on street corners, or your prejudices lead you to believe that anyone who is young and wearing anything other than that bought from Mark & Spencer or other straight-laced shops is a thug.

"The big problem here is stereotyping of the young by the old."

Kids from Britain are fine - we're more creative and have more about us
Sam Bidder, 17, Shrewsbury

Sam says he comes from an ordinary background. He was educated at state schools, including The Priory School in Shrewsbury, and is now studying for his A-levels at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College.

His father left school at 14 and now works in computers. His mother is a nurse.

"You can't blame the teachers for the way kids behave, a lot is down to your parents," says Sam.

"Children who go off the rails are quite likely to have parents who are lawyers."

He knows children who drink but says they are in a minority.

"I don't drink at all and that's not down to pressure or anything. People that drink a lot tend to be in a minority, it's no where near as bad as people make out."

He concluded: "The Unicef report was unfair. Kids from Britain are fine - we're more creative and have more about us. The best music comes from here and everyone wants to come and live here."

'Tested most years'

Jenna Winson, 16, from Derby, says that children - and parents in some instances - are under huge pressures in the UK.

"I'm not negatively affected myself but I'm not surprised by what the report's findings," she says.

"I suppose the pessimism that comes through in the report is a true reflection on how people feel."

Is it any wonder that UK youths are resorting to drugs, drink and sex to escape daily stresses?
Jenna Winson, 16, Derby

Jenna says: "I'm due to take my GCSEs this summer and I'm not surprised at all to see Britain is 'failing its children'.

"We're tested most years at school and there is a great deal of pressure on students to attain five A* to C grades at GCSE level and continue our education on to university - not exactly easy by any means.

"Youths are also encouraged to take up extra curricular activities to improve social skills. Is it any wonder then, that in these conditions, UK youths are resorting to drugs, drink and sex to escape daily stresses?

"Kids can't play or relax on the streets with friends, fear and prejudices from adults stop this. Simply reduce our stress and increase the UK's child welfare ranking."

Jenna, who describes herself as coming from a "comfortable" but not wealthy background, agrees financial pressures on a family can affect a child's upbringing.

But she says parents' efforts to better their situation can hurt efforts to communicate with their children - an area highlighted as important by the report.

"If parents are at home it can help to build relationships but if they are away working to put clothes on backs and food on the table it is going to have a slightly negative impact."


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