I read the news every morning with a sense of trepidation. What further level of insatiable horror could humanity have reached in my brief eight hour hiatus from waking life? Should I leave my house today? The Daily Mail says British teenagers are the most violent in the world. I am sure to mugged, beaten, stalked up the street by hooded youths with a games console brain, screen stuck on a bloody scene and powered by vodka. After all, they are the WORST of the WORST. Every one of them rules the streets, takes drugs, torments timid teachers and binge drinks their way into extensive news features.
While there is certainly some truth to the classic Daily Mail hyperbolic rant, what is far truer to every day life is the perpetuating fear and disdain surrounding British teenagers; a reputation that is, in part, afforded them by a toxic blend of sensationalism, curtain twitching, poor education and boredom. Over the years this appears to have contributed to the overgeneralised public opinion of a whole generation, indeed our future generation. The media consistently writes off British teenagers, entering them into superlative competitions with questionable statistics and a lack of introspection. If we, the adults who are meant to be providing guidance and inspiration, dismiss our teenagers, refuse to give them a voice or a platform for creativity, then we each have a hand in the problem and push further away the solution.
What follows is a story that newspapers will not publish. It shows the minds beneath the hoods and the fantastic things those minds are capable of, when given half a chance. This is a story uninteresting to the media, the supposed watchdogs of our society; it is not extreme enough, not horrible or sad. You may find instead that it is rather uplifting.
BEACH is a project orchestrated by Brighton and Hove City Council and the Employer Engagement Group but designed almost completely by a group of young people aged between 15 and 16. The aim of the project is to find out exactly what employers want from perspective employees, including skills, interview techniques, experience and qualifications. Together, this group of entrepreneurial youngsters designed the BEACH brand and the website. The website, 'designed by young people for young people', covers everything that young people need to know to help them advance in their future careers.
The website is bright, attractive and easy to navigate, incorporating a range of multimedia platforms including videos where employers, who are specific to Brighton and Hove, talk about what they expect from applicants. It has been a huge success, snow balling far beyond council expectations, so much so that councils in other parts of South England are also looking to adapt the concept.
Keith McCormick, deputy headmaster of Blatchington Mill School in Hove, said: "BEACH has spoken up for the silent majority. It's time to see what's beneath the hood." It has given employers more insight into the reality of Britain's younger generation, the majority of whom want to excel in their future careers and are motivated to do whatever they can to make that happen.
The evidence against our younger generation is certainly condemning. Yet there is little to balance the negativity, we rarely hear of the wonderful things our young people are doing, their achievements, struggles and triumphs. Looking at the most recent headlines "English teenagers 'worst in Europe' at languages", we can see that even in issues out of their control, our teenagers are at the forefront of societal accusations. Negativity may sell newspapers but at what cost to the positive progression of our society? Projects like BEACH demonstrate just how wonderful young people can be, so long as they're given a fair chance and someone to listen.