Debunking the myths surrounding teenagers
This article is from 2009.
Vilified, hated, dismissed, feared and ridiculed, with a reputation blackened beyond damage limitation by even the deftest of spin doctors. Teenagers may be the least fashionable or genial of causes to champion, but that is exactly what David Bainbridge wanted to do when he embarked upon Teenagers: A Natural History. ‘I decided to write about teenagers because my previous three books about reproduction, sexuality and the brain had made me realise that adolescence is the one amazing time when all of the major themes of our lives collide.’
However, Bainbridge doesn’t believe that the perception of teenagers has changed quite so dramatically as many people think. ‘I certainly don’t believe all this “teenagers-were-invented-in-the-50s stuff”. Not only does their treatment in literature show that they’ve always been considered a thing apart, a bit edgy, there is now just so much biological and psychological evidence which shows that adolescence is a distinct, well-defined life-stage in its own right. Everything is more vivid than when you’re an adult, be that love, sadness, idealism or violence.’
Bainbridge’s research fascinated him so much that he felt he had to get the results out into the public realm. ‘What it tells us is that the adolescent years, far from being a scourge or even just a nondescript transition between childhood and adulthood are, in fact, the most important years of human life, from a biological, cultural, psychological and evolutionary point of view. My big message is let’s all start being a lot more positive about teenagers.’