Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

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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Comments on: "Does the public perception of young people matter?" (6)

  1. Perceptions are the route of opinion – hugely important and not to be dismissed – Barnardos have done a great job with the report and film…

  2. Emma-Jane Cross, Chief Executive of Beatbullying said:

    Whilst we at Beatbullying welcome other charities constructively carrying out research into youth behaviour, it is completely irresponsible to allow our 11 million children and young people to hear that 53% of adults think they are animals – is this really a positive example to set our young people?

    The advertisement campaign to coincide with the report is equally disturbing and irresponsible. Intended to show how society condemns young people, it does nothing but enhance extremely dangerous misconceptions and further demonises our youth.

    As a result, we urge Barnardo’s to reconsider its decision to run this campaign.

  3. Whilst I agree that the advertising campaign can appear negative I think that many children already hear what adults say to them in hugely negative ways. At least this way some of those expressions are getting aired and there is more of a debate about the issue, rather than ignoring it.

    The debate on Radio 4 only highlighted how people perceive young people and children as a ‘problem’ and how much this needs to be addressed.

  4. I agree very much with Emma-Janes comments:

    http://www.breakfastsociety.com/2008/11/barnardos-children-in-trouble-campaign/

    I agree too with your thoughts Hilary that I can see why this approach was taken – but I see that as a symptom of a much bigger problem that needs to be tackled which is the influence we allow the popular media to have on society.

    I heard that interview on Radio 4 too and thought the ‘perceptions doesn’t matter’ comment was bizarre – it suggests to me somebody with a detachment from reality.

    My fear with this particular campaign is that it will strengthen feelings of ‘alienism’ not improve them.

  5. Hi Mas, I read your post and agree with both you and Emma about whether the negativity within the message might be the only thing that is heard however your point about how much we allow the media to monopolise and influence society is the key issue. It’s how we raise this and tackle it that concerns me. Plus the other key point for me is that the alienisation is already out there and being felt. At least the campaign is getting people to ask questions!

  6. Hi Hilary – yes I thought similar that maybe at least by instigating the conversation Barnardo’s are maybe doing a good thing.

    While I comment also want to take advantage to encourage yoo to send over your thoughts to me on predictions for youth work on the web next year – if you can get any ideas/predictions to me midway next week that would be fantastic 😉

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