Tag Archives: young people

Article 13 and the miniLegends

alupton Twitter: Thanks to everyone for comments n support left at now closed class blog.I'm watching with interest on Twitter the unfolding discussion about the decision by the South Australia Department of Education and Children Services to ask for the closure of Al Upton's class blogs (the miniLegends).

Minilegends Blog

The miniLegends blogs were written by 8 and 9 year old students in Al Upton's class as part of their learning. Last year Al invited international edubloggers to offer to mentor members of his class by leaving positive comments on their individual blogs.

Sue Waters suggests the order to close the blogs was due to parental concerns over use of young people's photos:

What happened was a few parents became concerned over the use of student images on blogs and potential for cyberstalking because global adult mentors were interacting students. Al had followed all the right procedures and obtained parental consent.

Whilst ensuring young people's protection from significant harm is crucial, the United Nations Convention on the Rights balances protection, provision and participation rights – and as I watched the issues unfolding this morning I thought I should take a look to see what the convention might have to say. So, here's Article 13 from the UNCRC.

Article 13 (Freedom of Expression)

1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.

2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order , or of public health or morals.

Australia is a signatory to the United Convention on the Rights of the Child. It would be interesting to see how the Committee would respond to the sorts of limitations on young people's expression and information seeking that are becoming all to common because of parental or policy makers irrational fears of the unknown*.

 

(*I'm not saying all fears are irrational. There are rational fears and concerns. I'm only worried about the cases where fears that are actually irrational (i.e. don't stand up to rational scrutiny) are causing problems.

What is Youth Led Development?

[Summary: two short video interviews about Youth Led Development]

This weekend I had the pleasure of facilitating at the Department for International Development/Civil Society Organisations Youth Working Group 'Advocacy Action Planning Residential' alongside a fantastic team of young facilitators and supported by Daniel Smith from BYC.

One of the key themes running through the residential promoting wider funding of, support for, and research into the impact of, Youth Led Development. Too often in international development, young people are perceived as a 'problem to be solved' rather than a 'resource to be developed' and as leaders of change. Much as Positive Youth Development (PYD) models seek to convince policy makers to see young people as an asset rather than a problem in domestic youth policy making, the idea of Youth Led Development (YLD)* seeks to convince planners and funders of international development initiatives and schemes to draw upon the lived experience, enthusiasm and energy of young people to contribute to creating positive change in some of the most challenging settings in the world.

[*Ok - the language does confuse things a little - so for clarity: In PYD we're talking about the developmental journey of an individual, in YLD we're talking about development as in 'developing country']

Of course, to really get to the bottom of what Youth Led Development is all about it's best to ask people who are in the know – so I got out the video camera and took the opportunity to speak to Anna from Y-Care International and Deborah from Voluntary Service Overseas.

And if you prefer to read rather than watch – this definition written around the 2005 World Youth Congress captures some of the story:

What is Youth-led Development (YLD)? Simply, YLD is community projects devised and implemented by young people under the age of 25. They are generally grass-roots, small in size, and carried out mostly, but not exclusively, by youth volunteers. And why do we think YLD so essential to achieving the MDGs? Because nature dictates that youth have energy to spare and the eagerness to use it. Worldwide, young people are already dedicated to addressing their communities’ needs. And, because we young people are so keen to learn, we are happy to take our wages in experience rather than cash salaries. Thus, YLD offers the most cost effective development action. YLD also massively benefits the youth who do it. They learn invaluable project management, fund-raising and leadership skills, hugely boosting their employability. Being part of a successful project builds a young person’s confidence and raises their self-esteem to stratospheric levels.

And to close this post – a quote that my colleague Sarah Schulman uses as her e-mail signature:

“This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” Robert Kennedy.

Developing a BarCampUKYouthOnline

Young People: CC Image: 'thaas loomoo 128' - www.flickr.com/photos/70021771@N00/216760345

There are a lot of people working on supporting young people through the internet, or supporting young people to engage with the internet.

Whether it's the web officers who run local and national youth websites, the people encouraging online campaigning and volunteering, the youth team at Direct Gov, the students and academics studying young peoples identity and interaction online, the youth workers working out how to support young people online, the policy makers thinking about sensible response, the developers of services targetted at young people, the consultants and bloggers thinking about what social media means, or indeed young people themselves – there are a lot of people with important perspectives and experience and questions around:

  • Online information services for young people
  • Supporting young people's online interaction and activity
  • Researching young people and the internet/blogging/social networking etc.
  • Developing online tools and platforms for young people
  • Exploring online technologies in education and participation
  • Young people's civic engagement online
  • And a whole lot more…

Well, inspired and encouraged by the success of BarCampUKGovWeb, and after lots of conversations with folk, I though we could probably do with a BarCampUKYouthOnline to draw together some of those threads, to bring together some of the people interesting in exploring these threads, and to build some networks and ideas for action. So let's organise it.

Provisionally I've put in 17th May 2008 as the date for the event – but that's about all that is decided so far. If you're interested in attending, getting involved in planning, or just finding out more – drop me an e-mail, edit the Wiki and join the Google Group mailing list. It would be great to have you on board… :)


Notes:

BarCamps are self-organised dynamic conferences created by the participants. The name is misleading, they've not officially got anything to do with alcohol.

Young People as I'm thinking of the category is broadly 11 – 19 year olds – although that's not a strict boundary on what we can talk about.

Update

I'd originally proposed 3rd May 2008 as the BarCamp date – but on realising this was a bank holiday weekend – am suggesting a switch to the 17th May.




Attachment: BarCampUKYouthOnline.doc

BarCampUKGovWeb – What should I be talking about on young people, government and web 2.0?

Whilst I'm on the topic of upcoming conferences and events, two days before I'll be exploring how various speakers think we should keep young people safe online, I should be at BarCampUKGovWeb – an altogether different sort of event.

BarCampUKGovWeb

A BarCamp “an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.” Participants are encouraged to contribute short sessions to the event – and I've just been thinking about the sorts of sessions I could present.

The BarCampUKGovWeb focus is on:

…creating a shared understanding and commitment to the vision for UK government web activity and helping establish the UK government Digital Network to bring together the community of webbies within central government and the wider public sector.

Quite a few projects I worked on over the last year have linked with UK Government web activity in one way or another. It's ranged from trying to provide youth-focussed content for government websites, pulling data out of Local Direct Gov or capturing video interviews with civil servants. And as the focus of most of my work is around young people's participation – I thought I would sketch out four possible mini-sessions linking 'young people, government and web 2.0' for the BarCampUKGov audience. You can see my four ideas pasted in below.

If you've got any other suggestions for topics – or want to suggest developments to any of the below – do get in touch using the comments below.

From an e-mail to the Google Group

Possible sessions

1. Protection and provision
Exploring issues around making sure under 18's are included, not excluded from the online civic space.

A bit theoretical – but with big practical implications.

2. Local names and national services
Using a case study of the Youth Opportunity Fund – a national programme, with a unique name (chosen by young people) in each local authority area – but for which we were trying to run a national publicity campaign working with (the then) DfES and DirectGov. Touches on technical issues linked to Local DirectGov – and organisational issues about policies for where content is hosted.

A very practical case study.

3. Working in partnership with government to consult and promote new policy
A couple of case studies of small scale projects for government (predominantly DfES) delivered by The National Youth Agency consulting with young people, or leading discussions and information-sharing about new policy with the field – incorporating the use of social media. Looking at how the social media element mostly 'just happened' – with logistical and policy issues being resolved along the way… and looking at whether this can be replicated – was the product of right people, right place, right time – or was enabled at the cost of
having a lesser impact.

4. Young people, online identity and the database state
I'm aware of at least one local authority building their own Social Networking website linked to the local Connexions database (holding personal information about young people). What happens when young people's online interaction comes within the ambit of the database state? Could we see social networks being linked to ContactPoint and other child protection databases? What about for over 18s?

Probably a bit of a theoretical discussion starter at the moment (unless I can work something up a little more in time for the BarCamp)

If I get chance to put together a full presentation for the BarCamp then I will, of course, share it here. And I'll aim to at least blog at/after the event on any discussions arising from the sessions I'm in.

The statistical invisibility of children and young people

Age Group on surveys

How different is a 6 year old from a 15 year old?

And how different is a 36 year old from a 45 year old?

You will probably agree with me that the difference in the first case is a lot more significant than that in the second.

So how come the 36 year old and 45 year old are likely to find themselves getting their own age brackets on many surveys (are you aged: 25 – 35?, 36 – 45?, 46 – 55? etc.) when the 6 year old and 15 year old will most likely find themelves lumped together a in the 0 – 19 bracket?

Ok. Here are some possible reasons:

Image: 'clipboard' - www.flickr.com/photos/60364452@N00/264890460Reason #1: Relevance . We don't generally get 6 year olds to fill in surveys. And indeed, if your survey is about insurance product choice then I would suggest you're right to avoid burdening a child with questions about attitudes towards fiscal risk.

However – if you survey is about some relatively universal experience without a legal limit on who might be participating in it – like, for example, spending time in a community space, accessing the internet or feeling save (or not) crossing the road – then perhaps you should be including the 6 year old and certainly the 15 year old, in your survey.

Reason #2: Limited sample. We may suceed in surveying the 6 year old and the 15 year old, (and the 7 through 14 year olds) but we just don't manage to survey all that many of them compared to, for example, the number of 25 – 34 year olds we survey. So we put the 0 – 19 year olds together in a big category to give us a statistically significant group.

Reason #3: Skills. Carrying out a survey with children and young people can require specific skills and training that many researchers may lack.

Reason #4: Consent and ethics. There may be questions around the capacity of children and young people to give informed consent to taking part in a survey, and about whether the survey will raise questions on issues children should be protected from thinking about.

Do the reasons cut it?

Not really. Reason #1, 'Relevance', is important. It should tell us that as soon as a survey significantly covers issues that are relevant to young people they should be included in the survey data. Issues #2, 3 & 4 are ones we can and should work around.

Why does it matter?

Without including children and young people in the surveys and datasets being used by policy makers and practioners to make decisions on a day-to-day basis, we make children and young people 'statistically invisible'. And that can have a big (quite possibly very negative) impact on decisions made that affect children and young people's lives.