Last night I had the pleasure of attending an event called UK Unsigned, an annual talent contest where youngsters compete in the fields of music, spoken word poetry and dance for cash prizes. The show took place at the Hackney Empire in East London. When I arrived one of the first things that I noticed was that adults were severely misrepresented, outnumbered easily by teens. Now ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem. But in light of all the countless articles published daily detailing the rise in teen violence, I must admit I was slightly nervous. Time magazine damnit, even felt it necessary to use their lead story as a sound board to voice the concerns of observers noting a young Britain on the brink of destruction, fuelled by an epidemic of violent crime, teen pregnancy, heavy drinking and drug abuse. But are things really as bad as they would have us believe? Now don’t get me wrong, the statistics are far from pretty. We are barely four months into the year and already, 11 teenagers have been murdered in the capital. But yesterday renewed my faith in the next generation, leading me to believe that they are actually okay. Sitting in among the throngs of 15, 16 and 17 year olds yesterday felt like a huge quantum leap back into the early 90’s to a time when I was a teen. And you know what? Not much has changed. Girls dressed in white school shirts bearing their ‘tags’ shrieking excitedly at the arrival of 3 male dancer friends on stage. Check. Over zealous laughter and commentary from the crowd on everything from the mundane to the insane i.e. the Shakira wannabe who wriggled her hips a little too enthusiastically, or the 3 choir boy types who looked like the proverbial rabbits to headlights? You betcha. The atmosphere was one electrifying, fever pitched, uncontrolled mess No doubt every fine detail will be discussed and dissected the moment they hit the school gates today. Because in truth, no matter how bad things appear to the outsiders (us), they won’t be computed with the same sense of doom by the receivers (them). And that’s the beauty of teen years AKA The Golden Age. I can recall my mum frequently taking pity on me and my brother because according to her, we weren’t able to at random go for swims, walk up hills or climb trees like she was as a child growing up in a rural parish in Jamaica. As if? The thought alone filled me with dread. Not while there was at least 27 volumes of Sweet Valley High books to read or The Kids From Fame to watch. So my only hope is the enduring memories for the next generation will be nights like last night. And not the constant reinforcement of the idea that they are a endangered species.