DUNCAN BARKES The wrong ‘uns will always be with us – but in the minority

The ‘Youth of Today’ doesn’t get an easy ride.

When I was growing up I remember vividly the headlines and concerns about how future generations would turn out.

The usual knee-jerk, going-to-hell-in-a-handcart kind of stuff. But bashing the young has now taken a new turn. Celebrities are getting in on the act and I find it all quite unpleasant.

First we had Jamie Oliver; a man I genuinely believe to have his heart in the right place.

But Jamie has a new TV programme to promote. In a recent interview he described British teenagers as ‘wet’, based on his experiences of employing 16 to 20-year-olds.

He referred to them as the ‘wet generation’.

And now actress, campaigner, and national treasure Joanna Lumley has waded in, stating ‘we are slack with our moral codes for children these days’.

She also suggests we are raising lazy children who ‘find it laughably amusing to shoplift and steal’.

The danger with such remarks is that children and teenagers become demonised.

Both Oliver and Lumley have painted using very broad strokes. There’s no separation here; an entire generation has been written off in a handful of dismissive and judgemental words.

Sometimes we look into the past with rose-tinted spectacles. When I was at school there was always the odd wrong ‘un who bunked off lessons or stole sweets.

There were certainly a few lazy kids about, too. I remember them. I bet you do too. It is nothing new. But we are talking the few, not the majority. Tarring all children or teenagers with the same brush is not only grossly unfair, but it comes at a time when the younger generation needs our support, not bigoted criticism.

For the first time in decades we now have hordes of well-qualified school-leavers unable to find work.

Youth unemployment is reaching an all-time high. Now is not a great time to be a teenager.

There are certainly children being raised who may have a somewhat wonky moral compass, but I would argue that there are still plenty who are being brought up to have good manners and decent values.

As the dad of a six-year-old I see plenty of children who are not remotely slack when it comes to morals – they certainly know the difference between right and wrong.

Lumley’s remarks appeared on the same day as a poll which revealed almost seven out of ten children volunteered for good causes.

It is just a shame this piece of good news did not receive as much attention as her negative comments. I believe that on the whole ‘the youth of today’ are a good bunch. What do you think?