A few days ago I ran across this item on the FamilyGP site in the UK highlighting a recent survey done by the Children’s Society.

The article says, in part:

Children aged between eight and 15 were quizzed about the ‘essentials’ of life for someone their age.

A list of the ten ‘must-have’ possessions was then drawn up – including iPod, pocket money, family holidays, a satellite TV, garden and “the right kind of clothes”.

After surveying 5,500 boys and girls, researchers found that those children lacking two or more of the items were “significantly more likely to be unhappy” than those given everything they wanted.

And those without five or more of the ‘must-haves’ were five times more likely to have “low levels of wellbeing”.

It is the first time children themselves have been polled about what they see as deprivation.

The mind boggles. Let us hope that this definition of ‘deprivation’ does not become a legitimate measure of ‘poverty’. Most kids in the UK, even those living under the poverty level, have access to a TV, a telephone, a council flat, hot water and heat — as well as the latest trainers and, often as not, some sort of electronic gadget.

Another recent survey in the December issue of Tatler, the British high-society magazine, profiled 250 students from public (private boarding) schools.  Not available online, it can be found on pages 125-130 of the print copy.  It’s a fascinating read.

I’ll largely skip the sections on what I considered to be commonplace in the US when I was growing up — e.g. alcohol consumption, drug experimentation — and give you a few excerpts about the sexual aspect of the lives these students lead.

Before I get to the findings, though, this post is not a comment on class as much as it is on today’s mentality, no doubt fostered by parents and other authority figures who still follow — and promulgate — the 1960s maxim, ‘If it feels good, do it’.  We know now that such ideology comes to us courtesy of the Frankfurt School, whose influence helped give rise to youthful rebellions around Europe and the US in 1968.

Having said that, there is an element of ‘class’ to this.  Those who have studied class behaviour — among them Vance Packard, Paul Fussell and Jilly Cooper — have noted that the upper and lower strata of society adopt the same mores and attitudes. The more middle classes concern themselves with propriety, reputation and closer family cohesion.  Yet, the extreme mores of the upper and lower classes eventually trickle down to most of the population: ‘Everyone’s doing it’.

Without further ado, this is what Tatler found among the nearly 250 students they interviewed:

– ‘Nearly half had had their stomachs pumped, or knew someone who had’ (p. 125)

– Eighty-eight per cent approve of homosexuality (p. 125)

– Two-thirds have had a same-sex encounter (p. 125)

– Over 75% said they had hoped to have children someday, yet ‘over 50% had taken the morning-after pill or knew someone who had’.  Furthermore, nearly a third had ‘had an abortion or knew someone else who had’. (p. 125)

– Nearly two-thirds were sexually active and more than a third of them were under the age of consent (p. 125)

– Eighteen per cent have had more than four sexual partners.  An additional five per cent have had more than 10.  (p.125)

– Everyone received a monthly allowance, yet 31% admitted to shoplifting. (p. 128)

So, these will be our national — perhaps international — leaders of tomorrow.

Additionally — sad though it is — these are likely to be our social attitudes of tomorrow.

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