I remember when Kevin the Teenager was being held up as a symbol of all that was wrong with teenagers.
These days, Harry Enfield’s comic creation has been replaced by another cartoon teen – Lauren from The Catherine Tate Show.
Lauren’s: “Am I bovvered?” has joined the long and distinguished list of comic catchphrases that have leapt across into mainstream use. Even Tony Blair got in on the “fun” during his Comic Relief sketch.
Although displaying a fine sense of comic timing, the Prime Minister might have scored yet another own goal by agreeing to appear alongside Lauren. He may have turned the tables on the stroppy schoolgirl, but it is still the type of endorsement that will have had thousands of teachers rolling their eyes in disbelief.
It appears teachers are claiming that a rise in aggressive pupil behaviour is linked to the popularity of TV characters like Catherine Tate’s insolent teenager.
They are now looking to fight back – not literally though – thanks to new legislation which comes into force today which is aimed at tackling unruly pupils of the “Am I bovvered?” generation. Teachers will now be able to use “reasonable force” with aggressive pupils, confiscate mobile phones and hand out Saturday detentions.
I can see the benefits of these improved powers. Regaining some control, some authority and some respect is probably long overdue.
Whether it is enough to reverse the trend that has been developing for a decade or more is another point.
I can see a major flaw with this legislation – the parents of the children it targets.
It may tackle the “Am I bovvered?” brigade epitomised by Lauren.
But will it work against their parents? Many of them represent the “Its so unfair!” brigade of Kevin the Teenager and haven’t managed to shake-off the bad attitudes of their own teenage years.