Posts Tagged ‘“negative stereotypes”’
We popped down to Oxford Circus recently to ask young people how they feel the media treats them. Here’s what they had to say…
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Last week vInspired was one of 60 charities that supported the Youth Media Agency’s submission to the Leveson Inquiry, calling for more balanced reporting of children and young people as part of their #presschange4youth campaign.
And it’s about time. All other forms of discrimination are highlighted and stopped, so why not discrimination against young people?
The Youth Media Agency has called for welcome changes such as age being included as a classification of discrimination into the Editors Code and that ‘journalists should exercise a duty of care and avoid negative generalisations about children and young people’.
The submission also points to a range of evidence that confirms young people are too often portrayed in a negative way. For instance, a 2009 survey by Children and Young People Now that found that 76% of press coverage about young people is negative; and a Youth Media Agency Pilot Survey, November 2011, finding that 79% of children and young people feel that adults see them in a negative light.
With newspaper headlines such as, Riots were like ‘a rave’ and a chance for young people to get ‘free stuff, is it any wonder that so many young people feel this way? This constant negative media portrayal has deep and lasting effects.
Last week, vInspired decided to try and get its own sense of young people’s current opinions of their portrayal in the media. They went out and about and recorded the views of young people and asked people on Facebook to finish the sentence: “The media portrays young people as…”. You might have already guessed what kind of responses they received…
This focus on the negative things a minority of young people do overshadows the great things that plenty of others contribute. Take a look through some of the inspirational work of our vInspired National awards finalists as evidence of the amazing contribution that young people are making to society. But a 2008 vInspired Survey found that 39% of adults are unaware of the good things young people do.
Hopefully the Youth Media Agency’s recommendations will be taken into consideration and spell the start of a fairer portrayal of young people. Because one thing is for sure: young peoples’ current treatment is unfair and needs to change, which is why I, like many others, am adding my voice of support.
At a time of record levels of youth unemployment, v has been working with some clever folk at the think-tank Demos to investigate what can be done to help the growing numbers of young people who are not in education, employment or training (who are often referred to as “NEETs”).
Experience Required argues that successive governments have totally misunderstood these young people. Traditionally they have often regarded NEETs as one hard-to-reach group – a ‘stubborn underclass’ who are socially excluded. In fact, the vast majority of NEETs are simply normal young people moving in and out of education and employment, who would benefit from a chance to prove what they can do.
As part of this work, the team went round the country to meet some young people who were NEET but have achieved more than they or anyone else thought possible through long-term volunteering. People like Nazma, a young Muslim girl, who took on a placement in the male-dominated area of construction, and shrugged it off as “a bit of a challenge”. Or Alex, who returned to the school she got kicked out of (where the teachers “probably didn’t really like me”) to volunteer her time as a learning support assistant. I certainly didn’t have guts to face up to situations like that when I was 17. Did you?
If you think you know “NEETs”, this video might just make you think again. v and DEMOS are now calling for a full-time volunteering programme at national level to help young people get the experience they need to succeed in the jobs market. Watch the video and let us know if you agree – especially if you are, or were, a “NEET”.
The Anatomy of Youth report left me feeling pretty overwhelemed, which is quite appropriate, because that seems to be one of the key findings from the report! Young people, aged 16-25, have as many issues facing them as any other generation, probably more, and don’t always have the opportunity or resources to tackle these issues. We are stymied by our age, our education, our money, and by the fact that we’re young, we don’t always want to tackle these issues. If we can’t have fun now, when can we?
Theres an old phrase – societies benefit most when a man plants a tree that he’ll never sit under. How true. The most teeling phrase I found in the introduction was a phrase from the Labour Party’s statement, The Younger Generation (1959) which stated that its not young people who are the authors of their own future, but the current generation. They are the ones writing the story, that we are going to have to live. If we fail to tackle climate change today, for example, its us who are going to have to find the substitute for oil – not an easy task. So if the education system fails us, you’ve beaten us twice. The lack of longterm thinking, for the short term profit and benefit, is having the most effect on us. To steal a quote from the Simpsons, “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!” Why should it be our job to sort out your mess?
In the chapter on belonging to changing communites (chapter 6), research demonstrates that young people feel most disconnected from their local neighbourhoods and communities, less so than their online communities. I feel this is indicative of the selfish culture that was alloed to develop in the 1980s and has been advanced ever since. The interenet is a great tool, allowing its users (mostly young people) to flourish, but largely as individuals, or in a connected but deeply impersonal way. One example of this would be introducing yourself to people. Online, everyone has a list of likes and dislikes, their hobbies, and the events that they’ll be attending in the next month, that you can peruse before striking up a conversation. As Zygmunt Bauman points out, young people are losing the ability to ‘critically analyse’ others in social settings because people already have their souls laid out in front of them. I believe this is making young people less personal, and less willing or able to interact in social situations.
Our disconnect from each other is a huge threat to young people. What’s the point, emotionally, of being able to talk to five people in China, if you don’t know the names of the people next door? Page 112 of the report shows very clearly that if we don’t tackle our community disconnect, participation, volunteering, apathy, and involvement will be in decline.
Ironically, Bauman says that blogs are the embodiement of our competitive, desperate for attention, celebrity obsessed, living the private in public culture. Blogs exist to get noticed, and get attention, he says. Therefore, I’ll keep the rest of my thoughts to myself.
Unless you ask me.
The National Young Volunteers Service
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