Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One thing from Friday's 'Have Your Say' edition of Newsround (see last blog) came across clearly - kids don't feel they're being taken seriously by politicians. As Anthony Horowitz put it in The Independent: It seems to me that the cynical politicians pay lip service to "kids". The smart ones will remember that that's where they began.

As an example, one of the key intentions of the Children, Schools and Families Bill was to put Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) on a statutory footing and ensure that all young people received at least one year of sex and relationship education. This has been one of the campaigns championed by the UK Youth Parliament.

But last week the measure was ditched in a stitch-up prompted by old-style politics.

Baroness Walmsley spoke about the betrayal of young people in the House of Lords.
Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I feel like the boy who stood on the burning deck when all around had fled. I and so many others have campaigned for so long to give children their right to life-saving and life-enhancing education by making PSHE a statutory subject in schools. Now our young people have been betrayed by the old alliance of old parties-the "Labservatives". The Government and the official Opposition have conspired behind closed doors to drop all the provisions that would have given children the high quality PSHE for which they have long asked, which they deserve and to which they have a right under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is the most truly shocking betrayal of my political life. ...

Kids don't just think it's the politicians who ignore them - it's adults too, as we saw in my previous blog:

Ricky: And you (girl to Ricky's immediate right) want politicians to listen up, don't you?

Girl: And adults. Cos adults don't ... (Ricky interrupts, and moves mic away mid-sentence)

After politicians ditched the SRE component of the Bill, a number of organisations including the UK Youth Parliament, Brook and the British Humanist Association signed a statement making clear that they would not give up the fight on behalf of young people in this country and their right to good, high quality sex and relationships education. Readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that none of this was reported by Newsround, even though it's relevant and important to kids. Andy Hamflett signed on behalf of UK Youth Parliament.

Newsround has, however, given kids the chance to have their say about what they'd do if they were Prime Minister for a day. But, of course, their comments are subject to moderation by adults in the Newsround team.

Hart's Ladder of Participation

In my 25 March 2010 blog I referred to a document published by the Commonwealth Secretariat, which looks at the benefits and reasons for youth participation. In Chapter 6 we read: ...all too often, adults fail to respect the rights of children to express their views and they also fail to recognise that adolescents should have wider and deeper participation opportunities. Levels of participation have been summarised in the form of a ladder by a sociologist, Roger Hart.

Now look at how Ricky introduced Newsround last Friday. He said:
Hello from Liverpool. We're live here on Newsround tonight for the first of our special 'Your Say' programmes. And the reason we're calling them 'Your Say' is because we're handing the programme over to you guys to decide what goes in it.
More on this after the next Newsround General Election special programme from Cardiff.

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