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August 27, 2003



You've tried to hard not to understand that first sentence.

To most people the bit 'first had sex' would imply those who are sexually active. I read that sentence as 40% of the teenagers when they first have sex are under the influence of drink or drugs. And that's exactly what it means -- how could teenagers who aren't sexually active have sex?

laban tall

Great stuff. Keep on fisking the Lib Dems.

Especially 'Doctor Death' Harris.

And James, "Amongst 13 -14 year-olds, 40% report being drunk or under the influence of drugs when they first had sex" means in English that 40% of 13-14 year olds were drunk/drugged when they first had sex.

Not true of course, but that's Oliver's whole point.

What language were you reading it in ?

Andrew Duffin

"There must be more research into the problem, better information and a structured alcohol strategy."

The only thing missing, of course, is:

"A Government-funded crash program..."

David Gillies

Yikes. Call me old-fashioned but the thought of a sexually-active thirteen year old is horrible. Although it would have seemed a great idea at the time.


Hi Oliver,

I've not commented on your blog before so let me begin by belatedly congratulating you on it's perspicacity and high quality of writing.

Notwithstanding the weasel wording you expose, which doesn't surprise me, I am more interested in the social trends under discussion. I am just old enough to recall the 1950's, that happily repressed, racist, illiberal era. The first of the modern youth problems were found among the excesses of teddy boys. They were vain, loud, cocky, sometimes violent. But how quaint and inconsequential they seem from the perspective of modern times.

What got us from there to here was, in part at last, government policy. The process began, as Philip Larkin noted in a non-political context, in 1963. Since that time we have slowly dismantled the relationship in law between man and woman and loosened the bonds of family which nurture children into stable, productive adulthood. The latest comedia is the legal recognition of homosexual relationships about which much blogging has been done and which also, I think, you would favour. People like me who point out that heterosexual marriage - there, I even have to qualify it to prevent confusion - will scarcely be strengthened receive a poor hearing. Personal freedom junkies, identity politicians and, all too often I fear, the defensively-minded children of broken homes will not grant the unique value of marriage that is paid in children's stability. I admit I am Durkheimian on the matter and probably too paternalistic by far. But I just do not see this river of personal freedom flowing from broken homes.

So, I do not hold with your reticence on the issue of government influence upon social pathology. Obviously, limitations apply. But where is the benefit in going on and on dismantling the proven social foundations of our society. We are Europeans, not Africans, and our psychology has developed over millenia in close sympathy with and expressive of the monogamous male and female who invest highly in the care of their offspring. If we change the expression we offend against the self. And so it is that a few errant teddy boys have transmogrified down the liberal decades into the picture we see today. I would like to think that one day a government will have the clarity of purpose to try, at least, to change that.

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