Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Youth Problem?

A few weeks ago Councillors Paul Canal, Keith Prince, Bob Littlewood, Bert Jones and Ian Bond had a “speed debate” with 20 youngsters from the Redbridge Youth Council. Here’s Paul Canal writing about his experience on his blog.
My overall feeling after this invigorating session was one of quiet confidence. If these young people are indicative of those who will be making important decisions in industry, commerce, politics, the arts, health and science in years to come, my borough and my country will be in good hands.
So, why does he sound so surprised? Why should the present generation of youngsters be any different to previous generations? It’s probably a matter of generational perception, like this poster below (sorry about the poor quality, it was scanned from a newspaper).

Which leads me directly to this report in the Wanstead & Woodford Guardian, where the cuts to youth services are discussed. Ignoring the “blame war” between Cllr Wes Streeting and Cllr Paul Canal in the comments, the fact remains that there are £2 million worth of cuts to be made to things like careers advice, drama and music groups.

So perhaps we should expect more of our youth to be hanging around on park benches and scaring old people?

Which leads on to the next report also in the Wanstead & Woodford Guardian about the appointment by Redbidge Police of the new Youth Engagement Officer, Sergeant Marion Kent, who we know well from the Roding Safer Neighbourhood Team. She is an excellent appointment and I am confident she will be well received and do a good job.

As she says “I’m hoping that rather than just throw out what we as adults think is appropriate we can start to listen to what young people want.” Quite. But the other thing she needs to be mindful of is the perception of young people by older people. As I wrote back in 2007.

We don’t have a "youth problem", we have an "adult problem".

Note: Yes I am aware that as I write this, there is a demo going on up in Central London but they are “Students”, i.e. over 18, or should be.

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