Teenagers hate to be patronised. There's probably nothing more excruciating than adults assuming that we are incompetent; whether it be in decision-making, general communication (without one- syllable expletives), clothing ourselves etc. The list goes on.
This assumption of incapability has recently extended to entitlements with which we have been entrusted for decades. Suddenly we should no longer be allowed to smoke at 16, or drive until we're 18 or even 21. Our compulsory schooling is scheduled to be extended by two years and there are talks about increasing the legal drinking age.
Now we may be a bunch of drug-taking, alcoholic, slovenly, grubby, monosyllabic, unresponsive muttonheads, but haven't we always been that? Why the sudden change?
We've been patronised for a long time. We're long-suffering. But in the last decade or so it's taken a bit of a turn. The patronising language, fluffing of hair and baby-style intonation of times gone by have been succeeded by the venom of cynical questions, distrustful glares and reprovingly spoken snide remarks. It happens a lot when I'm shopping. You can just see the assistant trying not to squirm when you so much as look at an item. Start handling clothes and you can cause convulsions.
Daily, there are ridiculous cases of over-reaction: being screamed at for sitting in the wrong place, being accused of misdemeanours on unsubstantiated evidence. The "yob culture" that informs the way the lives of young people are portrayed in the media has instilled an irrational fear in the adults of today. And their solution? Making laws.
This trend towards raising legal ages is completely illogical, not to mention highly irritating. Take smoking. Raising the smoking age is a pointless exercise. It's all very well for people to say that it will encourage young people to stop. But they would be wrong. At least five of my friends are regular smokers (all under 16). When I asked them how the ban affected them the resounding answer were words to the effect of, "It's really not a problem." The average age for taking up smoking is 15: that's a year younger than the old legal smoking age. It's doesn't take a genius to work out that a law isn't a deterrent: if teenagers want fags, they get fags. We're quite competent in that respect.
It's a similar story with alcohol. Anyone who was …