Impossible for children to make mistakes

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Like anybody else with their fair share of grey hairs and a pulse, I am the proud owner of an entire Ikea’s worth of skeletons, never mind a single closet.

I should imagine that there are folk out there who can boast more regrettable chapters in their life stories but, over nearly four decades, my back catalogue of embarrassments would make interesting reading nonetheless.

Being a believer that regrets are as much use as a hairbrush is to Boris Johnson, I take a certain amount of pride that I have acquired such an hefty amount of life experience. There is no shame in admitting that you cocked up every now and again. Human beings take a chance, so it is inevitable that things won’t always go to plan.

Most of us committed most of our misdemeanours in our youth in an age when the only witnesses to the ‘crime’ were as drunk or daft as you and the evidence they could provide was of little consequence.

This is one of the reasons why I think today’s youngsters have got it tougher than generations before – everything they do has the potential to be recorded indefinitely.

Take the 14-year-old who has been subjected to plenty of leg pulling and, even more seriously, now faces an uncertain future after a ‘mucky’ picture he took of himself ended up attracting the attention of the local plod. Simon (not his real name) took a revealing picture of himself and sent it to a girl with whom there seems to have been a mutual attraction, via an instant messaging service called Snapchat.

The attraction of such technology is that the image disappears almost immediately, unless you save it, which is what Simon’s young friend, also aged 14, did.

Almost inevitably the snap was doing the rounds at school. Worse than that, the school’s very own bobby was on hand to quiz the teen and inform him that this incident may harm his chances of getting a job working with the vulnerable or children for up to 10 years. Although not charged with an offence, this daft lad has been effectively criminalised for taking pictures of himself, which although is an unpleasant thing to do, was a 14-year-old’s feeble attempt at flirting.

Whatever you think about the effect of technology on the youth today, and clearly this is a salutary tale, the real tragedy is it illustrates how in today’s society it is almost impossible for children to make the mistakes that they should be allowed to make.