It seems to me sometimes these days that the relations between youngsters and adults have reached rock bottom.

We have, it appears, bred generations of youngsters whom nobody likes. People seem to view them as violent and dangerous, to the extent that they call the police to disperse groups of youngsters doing nothing more dangerous or sinister than standing in a group, talking.

We've certainly come a long way from the Victorian view that "children should be seen and not heard." Nowadays, it seems, children are thrust into adulthood at a ridiculously early age, (a cynical ploy, perhaps, by governments wanting to cash in on the teenage vote).

By the age of 18 children can vote, die or kill in war, drink themselves silly with alcohol, give permission in hospital for a serious operation and there is even a move afoot to allow 18 year-olds to be MPs.

Campaigners now want the age of consent for girls changed from 16 to 14. One wonders where it will all end. Soon, it seems, children will have no childhood at all: they will be thrust into the world of frightening adult responsibilities while they are scarcely out of nappies.

What is ironic about all this, of course, is that all this casting children adrift from parental advice and control, thus making parents impotent to guide and discipline children, is all done in the name of children's rights.

A whole raft of legislation from the Court of Human Rights has given children rights and responsibilities that they are just not ready to exercise sensibly.

The natural order of life, that adults prepare children to take their place in society as responsible citizens, has been replaced by the mawkishly sentimental view of children as angelic and wise beings, "trailing clouds of glory" from Heaven, as Wordsworth said.

They know best what is good for them: "what children need" has been replaced by "what children want".

We are told by educational psychologists that to make children behave well it is sufficient to praise extravagantly any little bit of good behaviour and to ignore completely any behaviour that is bad or unacceptable.

The words "no" or "naughty" must be struck from our vocabulary.

Thus is it that children never learn what is bad behaviour because they are never left with generations of manipulative monsters who behave at home and at school as they please towards parents, teachers, police - any adult, that is, who would once have been expected to civilise children and make them acceptable members of society.

In schools, of course, this has reached ridiculous proportions. Teachers cannot shout at a child, or write critical comments on their work (in case it discourages them); teachers cannot tell children they are behaving badly and insist upon change.

Of course, this means that children can bully other, weaker children, verbally and physically bully teachers. Once staff were expected to be a civilising influence upon children; now, all children know the jargon of their superiority: teachers are called "racist, sexist, perverts, discriminatory," when they are merely trying to control children ' s disruptive behaviour.

With adults thus rendered impotent by legislation, it it any wonder normal children are thrown to the wolves of yob rule and the normal children go to the wall?