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- For Teachers
I am currently doing Standard Grade English - the Scottish equivalent of GCSE's - for which I must write a discursive essay. I was wondering if anyone could give me some pointers and if possible a rough grade? This is my first post so I apologise if I'm going about this wrong. Thanks in advance, Adam.
The youth of today are like no other: intelligent, technological, opinionated. They receive widespread criticism from the media with teen pregnancy and gang culture rife. Life has changed dramatically however for these children growing up in modern day society, a typical Saturday night no longer consists of sitting around the fire with your family speaking of your week whilst the gentle hum of the wireless plays in the background but rather hitting the town centre with mates, drinking and taking drugs. This cannot be said for everyone however. We see an ever increasing amount of youth getting involved in politics nowadays, more competing at high levels in sport, so, this begs the question: are the age limits set out by the law years ago outdated? Are the youth of today too irresponsible for the right they possess? Do they deserve more? Is it time to re-think age limits?
A controversial topic that has been in recent headlines has been the fact that 16 year olds will get the vote in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. This has been subject to a lot of debate with many saying that it’s about time something like this has happened whilst others arguing that it’s no more than a ploy on the SNP’s part to gain more pro-independence voters. One argument put forward by pro-16 voters is that society says 16 year olds are capable of making rational long term decisions as we allow them to work full time, marry and join the army. Surely then, they say, it would be hypocritical to accuse 16 year olds of lacking sufficient maturity to vote? Surely if you can start a family and die for your country you can tick a box? I say, no – that is factually incorrect. ‘You can die for your country but cannot vote’ – frontline service is not allowed until the age of 18 and so this myth presented by many people is no more than that, a myth. However, this argument is not only one of maturity. Almost 2/3 of teenagers use public transport on a daily basis yet they have no say on how it is run or operated. Every single teen - up to the age of 16 - must, by law, go to school. But, they cannot make heard their views or opinions on the matter as they are unable to vote! Who does schooling affect more than the pupils themselves, they ask. ‘People believe the young generation of today are disinterested in politics? It’s no wonder when the policies that affect them most are being decided by people who were in there position 30 years prior: they feel ignored and that their views and opinions don’t matter or count for anything.’ Lowering the voting age may be the solution to getting more youngsters more politically involved but first we, as a society, must accept that they are equally as capable of making educated decisions as we are and stop dismissing what they have to say! I believe that this is all well and good - we must find a solution to get more youth involved in politics - but I don’t think that lowering the voting age is a good way of going about it. I myself as a teen approaching 16 years of age can categorically say that I know of not one person my age that takes an active interest in the subject of politics nor one that wants to. We youngsters have better things to worry about and frankly, the topic bores us. I, and I’m sure you can agree with me on this, can say that I do not want people that have no idea and no care of what they are voting on, to decide what happens to the country. With the media so persuasive nowadays, youngsters are easily be affected by what they read and so will vote against what they believe is best should they read something about it in the paper which does not paint the full picture. Clearly, this is not the way to go about it, clearly we must find another solution.
Where some aspects of more rights for todays youth are quite equal in the general opinion of the public in terms of whether they should not be granted, others are more one sided. At the moment, in the UK, you can purchase alcohol from the age of 18. This is another topic which has been subject to debate as youth drunkenness is a big problem within Scotland. Some say that lowering the drinking age will encourage safer drinking, the basis of this is that the youth that do drink will be more likely to drink in pubs which is a more controlled environment. There they will not mix their own drinks and they will be able to be dealt with should they drink too much, thus eliminating both the health hazards that come with drinking and the teens antisocial behaviour. In addition to this, it has been said, teens are less likely to drink in parks with friends and so the ‘alpha male’ mentality of young males will be extinguished. This means that the vandalism and other crimes that go with it will decrease, creating a safer community. ‘We must find a dynamic solution to deal with young drinkers as the current measures are not working, if we treat them like adults then hopefully they will show us that they can act like them in return.’
However, Britain as a country has one of the worst problems in Europe when it comes to youth drinking. 1 in 5 11-15 year olds drink at least once a week, alcohol related conditions have doubled to over 262,000 a year in the last decade, A&E cases relating to alcohol have also doubled to almost 150,00 a year and excessive drinking by youngsters has seen a 20% rise in hospital admissions over the past 5 years. Now, this means nothing if what they are doing causes no harm but the human body is not fully developed until the age of 21 and this means that the health affects of drinking – liver disease, brain damage etc – are amplified to much more serious levels in youngsters. This binge culture that has poisoned our youth increases your chances of having a stroke by a massive 42% and I certainly would not want any child of mine to be lost to something as stupid and needless as alcohol. These statistics are shocking and show that we must do something about the issue, and we must do it now. If we lower the legal drinking age, children even younger than the ones drinking now will take it up and cause even more serious damage to themselves, thereby causing further catastrophe and aiding us in no way whatsoever. It provides no benefit for us to lower the age – we must eliminate this craze that has almost become a rite of passage for good and make sure it does not come back. The answer lies with the parents. They must educate their children and tell them of the dangers alcohol brings, if they are taught young that alcohol is bad then we can clean up this new generation and fingers crossed eradicate this monstrosity for good.
To conclude, let’s look at a real example of age variation within the law. The law in the USA says that anyone aged 16 or over can drive, here in the UK that same law states that you must be 17 – a year older than the USA. Does this improve results? Can the teenagers contend with this extra responsibility or is it too much for them to handle? In 2010, about 2,700 teens were killed whilst driving on US roads whereas only around 475 British teens were killed behind the wheel in Britain in that same year. From this we can clearly see that, when put in action, it produces better results when you wait a year or two before giving out more rights to youngsters. Experiences and lessons learned in that 1 year dramatically change the person of interest and make the country a safer place to live in. I say, that youngsters already have many privileges, they should be thankful for that. I believe that should we start lowering age limits for more and more things, the youth will just keep demanding more and more and so creating a never-ending cycle. I think that we should, in the UK, keep the age limits as they are at present because although they may not be perfect, things could be a lot worse and there is no need to risk this state of calm by introducing silly new age limits which are unneeded, unpopular and simply a waste of time.
Word Count: 1460
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