EVERYBODY is worried about the mental health of our children. As always, when such problems arise, schools are expected to pick it up, addressing bullying, vaping, obesity, pornography, knife crime, drugs. The list is unending, but we cannot keep dumping this on our teachers or the NHS.

As a youth worker with 50 years' experience, I don’t think we are looking hard enough at the causes of these problems. If we listen to our teens, they tell us that they are bored and have nothing to do. They are right; there is nothing for them to do, especially for poorer families. The youth clubs, and places for children to just hang out, have vanished, because local authorities can no longer fund it. So we are abandoning our kids to be targeted by a variety of commercial organisations in pursuit of profits.

I managed the biggest youth centre in Scotland for five years. It was designed by young people, for young people, and had a management committee of teenagers. It had all of the facilities for sport and recreation that kids wanted in the 1970s. We had a staff of seven full-time and 20 part-time to work with the 1,200 members and about 30 youth groups. The last time I visited it, I found a tiny staff working with only 100 members. The power for young people had gone; so had most of the more difficult kids that part-time workers could not handle.

London Sadiq Mayor Kahn is frantically seeking solutions to the child murders and stabbings. Yet around 400 youth workers and youth projects have closed.

There is a much more dangerous problem nobody seems to have noticed. We have allowed commercial enterprise to get in on the act, dipping into the pocket-money of our kids to provide fancy new sport and leisure centres, with £50-£90-a-month memberships that are beyond the reach of thousands of kids. Sport is the dominating feature of these facilities and we all know that teenage girls are very seldom attracted to that. They, like most teens, just want a safe place to meet.

Even worse is the insidious billions to be made from our teens from mobile phones; internet, gaming apps, gambling sites, pornography instead of good sex education for teens, and now vaping. Parents worry about drug addiction, but the addiction to mobile phones, social media, TikTok and the likes has massively-damaging effects on teens' mental health. Internet sites showing what girls' bodies "should" look like, self-harm instruction, how to commit suicide, are all undermining the mental health of thousands of our teens Our councillors, MSPs and MPs need to get real and make it a priority to fund good-quality youth work. Empowering our children and teens by investing in services run by them, for them, is what we need to do. Why is it that university students are empowered by having student unions, owned and run by them, but non-students are left to be exploited by commercial enterprise?

Max Cruickshank, Glasgow.

Read more: We must not undermine volunteer element of children's hearings

Coercive control from London

I HAVE long believed there to be a clear political and cultural case of coercive control by the UK Establishment: oppression, manipulation and exploitation of Scotland taking place routinely and in plain sight at national and governmental level. I fear London’s campaign of bullying, interference and intimidation, under the escalated guise of "muscular unionism" looks certain to intensify as its vice-like grip on Scotland is increasingly eroded, echoes of the disrespectful and all-too-often abusive treatment meted out by the British Establishment towards recalcitrant colonies and disaffected dependencies over time.

We are now seeing the final remnants of a spiteful yet perversely ever-more arrogant British Empire so comprehensively castigated in Andrew Tickell’s piece ("British establishment is still attacking the wrong targets", May 28) acting to protect its inherently autocratic sense of superiority centred on four central pillars of a) assumed status/sovereignty; b) assured and significant revenue streams; c) strategic military interests (HM Naval Base, Faslane and RAF Lossiemouth) and d) essential energy security, all currently up for grabs as Scotland rightly agitates to break free from the unjust shackles of London-based command and control.

Parallels with the loathsome domestic variant of coercive control are worryingly similar and equally repugnant; first, Scotland finds itself locked-in and trapped with no evident escape route to what is clearly no longer – if indeed it ever was – a voluntary union of equals; meanwhile Scotland submits its hard-earned money to the UK Treasury, where a UK Government with no democratic mandate north of the Border decides how much spending money Scotland can have in return, financial control an accepted cornerstone of coercive control.

Similarly, freedom of association is increasingly being denied. Westminster is attempting to control who Scottish ministers can consort with and only then with a UK Government "chaperone" in place, effectively isolating Scotland from existing and potential friends and partners on the the outside world. This is combined with the seemingly endless and excoriating campaign of public belittling and humiliation of Scotland in general and, in particular, its democratically-elected Government – witness the grossly excessive, high-viz "crime scene" theatrics outside the Sturgeon/Murrell home.

As I understand the shameful modus operandi of domestic abusers and coercive controllers, as dominance of their captive comes under threat, offending behaviour often intensifies and expands, such as the UK Government’s interference in Scotland’s devolved areas of legislation; for heaven’s sake, it is even dictating how we Scots deal with our recycling, and in dropping the Proclaimers' song I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) from the official Coronation celebration playlist, it seems London now even seeks to control what music it is appropriate to listen to.

While the domestic version of coercive control is rightly and comprehensively legislated against, there appears no legal limitation on how the UK Government’s disparaging treatment of Scotland can be contained, let alone ceased. As very many courageous individuals, mostly women, have found, eventually escaping the clutches of their abuser by whatever means – legal or otherwise – is a truly liberating experience, one that I for one look forward to Scotland enjoying when – not if – freedom is eventually earned through independence.

Mike Wilson, Longniddry.

Read more: Assisted dying proposal poses grave risks to the vulnerable

MSPs must back assisted dying

PROFESSOR David Albert Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, cleverly presents his biased opinions in a manner designed to lead the reader to believe that his opinions are facts (Letters, May 28).

Prof Jones read Theology at Oxford (1992-2000) and is also a Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which is a Pontifical Academy of the Roman Catholic Church.

Whilst this does not necessarily establish Prof Jones’ religious beliefs his publications, which I admit I have not read, include The Soul of the Embryo (2004) and Angels: A Very Short Introduction (2011), suggesting that he believes in God and angels.

His attempt to suggest that if the public are asked a misleading question they would then agree with his beliefs and religious opinion, which are very obviously against promoting assisted dying, is being deliberately ambiguous.

To assist Prof Jones with future comments and to avoid being ambiguous, assisted suicide means assisting someone who is “not dying” to kill themselves whereas assisted dying as proposed by Liam McArthur’s bill is assisting someone who is already “in the process of dying”, to die in a humane manner to alleviate pain and suffering where palliative care cannot offer relief.

What is being offered by Mr McArthur’s bill is assisted dying and that is what the MSPs should be voting on and not some unsubstantiated belief about what has happened in the past or what may happen in the future.

Fortunately academic, scientific and medical analysis is normally undertaken on a proven basis rather than someone’s unfounded religious belief.

Because of the very prolific opposition of this bill by religious zealots I would ask everyone in favour of the introduction of this humane alternative to an unnecessarily painful death to urge their MSP to vote in favour of it and not to take the easy way out in the hope of avoiding losing votes by abstaining.

Iain McIntyre, Sauchie.

Wildfire poses big questions

IT'S a matter of serious concern to learn that the wildfire which has devastated large areas of ground in the north of Scotland may have been started by wild campers. Whether intentional or through carelessness, the economic impact and the effect on the environment will be massive.

It raises the question as to how the fire risk can be minimised during periods of severe drought. Should portable barbecues be banned and should camping be discouraged? One must accept that the vast majority of campers are sensible and take precautions, but again it's the small minority who cause the problems. With climate change, it's an issue which can only get worse and needs to be tackled by the government.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.

Stop breeding and save the planet

THE climate activists demonstrating in the UK are Animal Rising, Extinction Rebellion, Tyre Extinguishers, Affordable Energy, Insulate Britain, Just Stop Oil, Animal Rebellion, The Fridays for Future Movement, Last Generation, Scientist Rebellion, Republic, This is Rigged and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. They claim to have hundreds of thousands of supporters.

Since the majority of them are young they can help ensure UK Net Zero 2050 by refusing to have children. After all, people cause greenhouse gases and the UK population today is 67 million and will be 77 million by 2050 unless our eco-groups act rather than demonstrate.

They could also pledge never to travel in a petrol/diesel vehicle, turn off their gas supply, take no foreign holidays, eat less meat, own no mobile phones or electrical goods and never attend music festivals or sporting events. UK Net Zero 2050 achieved. The rest of the world?

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.