The UK takes bottom place "by a considerable distance" for the number of young people who smoke, abuse drink and drugs, engage in risky sex and become pregnant at too early an age. For 16 out of 17 OECD countries with the data, between 15% and 28% of young people have had sex by the age of 15. For the UK, the figure is 40%.
What damn slow fellows these young Euros and yanks are. I’d like it put on record that as a young person I didn’t abuse drink and drugs. I cherished them. As for the sex datum, I never had sex at fifteen…though it wasn’t for want of trying, or at least thinking about trying. I wouldn’t have been particularly impressed by some pokeynose from the UN defining what I thought of as a failure as a social good, either. Leaving aside the actual poverty indices in the report, there isn’t much to indicate that young people in Britain are any more unhappy with life than their counterparts elsewhere. The overriding concern seems to be that they are less productive from the point of view of the liberal state.
I don't want to romanticise teenage excess. But historically, there's always been a strong antinomian and libertarian strain in British culture and I don't want to see that harrassed out of existance by the well meaning either. As Hogarth pointed out, the proper counterpart to Gin Lane is Beer Street.