A question for the Americans out there.

I am British. In my country it is a popular saying that "your schooldays are the best days of your life". While schoochildren may roll their eyes when told this, it is only because they have no comprehension of the horrors that await them come adulthood. By contrast it seems to be received wisdom in American culture that high school is terrible and things get better. Why the difference? I don't know much about the culture in American high schools, what I do know is largely drawn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I don't think I have rose tinted spectacles when viewing my youth. I work as a teacher so have a lot of experience with school kids. I remember well how we were all afflicted with testosterone-psychosis - the feuds, constant violence and casual sadism. Also the gut wrenching sexual frustration. I am aware how horrifying the experience must have been for homosexuals, young women subject to constant male violence and children with abusive parents.

But for most of us there was something you never really get again. Fraternity. When you are with hundreds of your peers for five days a week you get the opportunity to form real relationships which have no parallel in adulthood. No matter if someone is a rival, a geek, (or god forbid has different music taste!), you are still bonded like brothers through shared experience. Just as brothers can be extremely violent to each other while sharing an unbreakable bond, so it is with school children. Like a mosh pit the playground has its own justice - be too much of a twat and everyone gets together and beats the shit out of you.

Schoolchildren, amidst all their aggressive, boisterous and irritating intensity, have a lot of admirable qualities sadly lacking in most adults - Courage, Self Respect and playful senses of humour. A good chunk of what adults tend to view as bullying is in my experience rage at a try hard who has sacrificed their dignity in order to please adults, and so betrayed their classmates. When I was at school, so long as you didn't think you were better than others, let everyone copy your homework and used your smarts to take the piss out of the teachers intelligence was something that got you respect, admiration and jealous rage.

What I remember most about my schooldays is the laughter. Everything was a joke, a game. Even the parts which were scary and not so nice were faced with a nervous giggle and nihilistic bravado. Never do adults play and make each other laugh the way teenagers do. So why is it so terrible being young in America?