Can an egg set the right example?;The week in view

18th June 1999 at 01:00
AS LABOUR licked its wounds after the European elections and the Kosovan war drew to a close, the week brought two ghastly teenage crazes, pressured four-year-olds, religious controversy on the buses and a Humpty Dumpty revival.

Harry Enfield's teen brats Kevin and Perry will take to the big screen soon, while real-life schoolkids are causing parental anguish. Two Sussex 14-year-old girls were found safe after travelling to a less salubrious part of Greater Manchester to meet a boy whose number they had dialled at random on their mobile phones. Police and child protection groups are horrified lest "telephone roulette" catches on in a big way.

Another horror: a Lancashire 11-year-old boy was taken to intensive care after playing a game called "dead zone" in which friends made him faint, but failed to catch him as he fell.

A bad week for young children as research on four-year-olds found they are under pressure to succeed. Jacqui Cousins, a UN adviser on early education, said children complained of being hurried and having no time to play.

Graduates are also feeling the strain: a survey by High Fliers Research of 11,000 finalists showed that 29 per cent expected to start a full-time job after university compared with 34 per cent last year. A fifth wanted time off to travel, or to do nothing for a while. Hardly surprising as research by scientists in St Louis' Washington University of Medicine found that high levels of stress, such as revising for finals, causes an increase in the amount of the hormone cortisol which has a deleterious effect on memory. So last-minute cramming could be counter-productive.

With a Royal wedding looming, Prince Andrew, the groom's brother, found something else to shout about. He launched the NSPCC's Full Stop scheme aiming to end child cruelty with a One Minute Noise campaign to encourage adults to listen to children. The poor chap endured the din made by 200 London primary kids for 60 seconds.

Holly Dobson, a 12-year-old from County Durham, found she had the wrong religion for the school bus. Education officials have ruled that she's not entitled to free transport because she's an Anglican attending a Catholic school. The minibus which drove her to school for a few months became full up so she must either change her school or her faith.

And finally, Humpty Dumpty has been recruited to warn parents about the dangers of drugs. The charity Action Aid believes adults need to take in the message that drug-users are getting younger. A case of you can't make healthy children without breaking eggs?

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