Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for November, 2008

Does the public perception of young people matter?

As I was driving in to work today I was listening to the Today programme on Radio Four where there was a discussion about how the public condemn all children and young people. The discussion was centred on the release of Barnardo’s Children in Trouble Campaign which includes a provocative video clip .

As well as using language that has been used in the press about young people on the video the campaign includes a survey that was undertaken to check out these expressions. In one instance more than a third of the adults questioned agreed with the statement that the streets were “infested” with children.

What I found intriguing about the interview / discussion was the blanket view of David Fraser, a senior probabtion officer, who feels that perception doesn’t matter compared to evidence in the real world and continued to talk about young people being a ‘problem’. I was very surprised at this however being prepared to be challenged, I wondered whether we do make too much of an issue about the image of young people? Are we really making too big a deal out of perceptions? Are there examples where postive impressions of young people have made a difference to the community?

Personally I believe that perception is an issue. Frequently I come across areas where young people are viewed negatively and are perceived to be the cause of all the problems a community is facing. When you drill down it transpires that it is a few young people who are causing a few of the problems, not all of them. Young people and children are often represented negatively in meetings I attend in a way which wouldn’t be allowed when discussing the elderly or other groups of individuals.  So – what do you think? Should we or shouldn’t we worry about perceptions?

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Initial Reflections on Blog by young people in China

Well, I’ve more or less had the final blogs through from China and thought I’d just share my initial thoughts about how we’ve used this tool so far for this experience. We will be ongoing with the blog (hopefully) in the future but it’s been a real learning experience for all involved and I have no doubt we will be writing this up, at least briefly, to help inform our future practice.

My colleague, Maralyn, has written a thoughtful post here on our West Sussex Youth Exchange – China 2008 blog. I think that one of our key learnings for the future was to throughly investigate whether there are any potential blocks on the hosting site you use for the blog. However, in saying this I think that it has been useful having the blogs come through as emails as I have done a few limited edits. This has been important as we were publicising the blog to county council members etc. and needed to ensure that the material was appropriate. I think that it is important to think about what audience the blog is going out to and how this might be managed. This would be especially important in any form of Crisis Management as the immediacy of the blog and what may be being posted may not be ‘on message’. I had a few interesting internal debates about the integrity of editing the young people’s blogs however this was minimal and hopefully did not detract from the gist of what the young people were saying. There is a similar discussion to this here on Youth Work Online . Another time around I would discuss this more in advance with the group.

West Sussex Youth Exchange Group - China 2008

West Sussex Youth Exchange Group - China 2008

The next point is that blogging takes time!!! I think those that blog know this however I think that we do need to think about how we as youth workers build this into our programmes when using blogging as a reflective tool. I am looking forward to discussing this with the group and seeing whether there would have been any difference if there had been group blogs, or individuals having a day each to blog? I’m also interested in how the videoing turns out and how this balances with the blogs as they have been recording a lot of their thoughts on video too which for some might be an easier medium.

Well, these are just quick thoughts and I will no doubt be posting more. Thank you to those that have been following the China blog, the young people have enjoyed your comments and also been inspired by the number of views they’ve been getting. If you have any suggestions for the future or any other thoughts on the blog please do leave a comment below as we’d love to get any feedback.

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