Aim: To get young people thinking about their rights and their involvement in making decisions. Taken from the BB Company Section Discoverer Pro Pack, Community Local and National C2
• Flip chart pad
• ‘Children’s Rights’ template
• flip chart pad
• Flip chart
Activity 1 - Rights
Aim: To learn that everyone has basic human rights.
• Get the group to shout out the words that come into their head first when they hear the word “rights”. Write all the words on a flip chart.
• Designate one side of the room as ‘agree’ and the other as disagree’. Explain that you are going to shout out some statements. lithe young people strongly agree with a statement, they should then a. go to the side of the room that best represents their view. After you have read each statement ask volunteers to share with the group what they think.
Statements (supporting information is included):
1. Everyone has human rights. (True, international human rights standards apply to everyone.) —
2. Governments have the most responsibility to uphold human rights. (This is true, but everyone has the responsibility to respect the rights of other people.)
3. Children do not deserve the same human rights as adults. (Human rights are the basic rights that every human has.)
4. The right to be heard is the most important human right. (What about the right to life or protection from torture. Can you be listened to if you are not protected?)
5. People who commit crimes should lose their human rights. (Which crimes? How long for?)
6. Rights are useless if you do not know you have them. (Governments are meant to inform the public about their human rights. Then people know what to expect.)
• Had you thought before about what rights people have?
• Explain to the group that in 1979 Poland recommended that there should be a set of human rights for all the children in the world. It took 10 years for the UN to achieve this. In small groups, get the young people to think about what a child in their first 17 years of life needs for the best possible life. This isn’t about having lots of material possessions, but fully developing as a person emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, physically and socially.
• Ask the group to produce a set of rights — all the things that governments, parents and others must do e.g. a child has the right to shelter, food and warmth. Use the Children’s Rights’ template to guide their thoughts.
• Compare and contrast the rights as set out in the UN convention to those that the young people have created. http:/Aw.unicef.org/crc/files/GuidinPrinciples.pdf
• Do you think that these sets of rights are respected by people in this country and around the world?
Activity 2 - Making Decisions
Aim: To highlight to the young people the decisions that they make every day and the responsibility that goes along with those decisions.
Roll out an old roll of wallpaper or a couple of sheets of paper. On the x axis label an age range from to 21. On the same sheet get the young people to write or draw what you are allowed to do at differentages.
• You can buy a pet
• You are responsible for wearing a seat belt
• You can drive a tractor on farm land
• You can ride a horse on the road and not wear a helmet
• You open a Giro account with an adult to guarantee it
• You can be sentenced to a detention and training order
• You can watch 15 or PG certified films
• You can leave school
• You can have a full-time job if you have left school, but you can only start work on the last Friday of June even if you have turned 16 before this
• You can sell scrap metal
• You can become a street trader
• You can buy the morning-after pill
• You can have an abortion
• You can fly solo in a glider
• You get a National Insurance number
• You can bet on the football pools
• You can give blood
• You can take your driving test
• You can emigrate
• You can appear before adult courts
• You can be called to serve on a jury
• You can become an organ donor
• You can get married without guardian’s consent
• You can vote
• You can buy fireworks
• You can buy and drink alcohol in a pub
• You can run a pub
• You can adopt a child
• You can become a MP
Get the groups to comment on any inconsistencies in the age ranges, e.g. at 16 you can start working pay tax but you can’t vote. At 18 you can vote but you can’t become a RB captain, you can smoke at 16 but you can’t drink alcohol, you can vote at 18 but you can’t become an MP until you are 21.
• What would you like to change?
• When should young people be able to influence decisions that are made about them?
• What are the boundaries or limits to young people being involved in decision making processes?
• Divide into groups of Three to four.
• On a piece of flip chart paper get the group to record all the decisions that they made in the last 24 hours.
• In a different colour get the group to write around their answers the knowledge and skills that were required to make those decisions.
• In one big group ask the young people how much freedom they think they get to make everyday choices. Are those choices respected? Who takes more notice of your decisions — parents, siblings, teachers, youth workers, etc.?
• Back in the original groups get the young people to come up with four of the most important factors that they have to consider when making a decision.
• Then ask the group to rank them in order of priority. Ask them to arrange them in a diamond shape with the most important at the top and the least important at the bottom.
• Get the groups to share their answers with each other and highlight the key points.
Activity 3 - Barriers to Decision Making
Aim: To get the young people thinking about what stops them getting Involved in making decisions.
• In small groups get the young people to draw a teenager. The pictures will probably follow normal stereotypes. Ask the group if they are like the person they drew. If not why did they draw a young person like that? Tell them that we often only see young people in a negative light as causing trouble. However we know from our time at the SB that not all young people are bad people and in fact there are lots of young people who do great things in the communities in which they live and you are evidence of that.
• Get a couple of newspapers and look through them at how young people are portrayed? Stick all the headlines onto a piece of paper. What do we think about these headlines? Can you think of any others? What is the underlying message being communicated to young people — and what is the likely response to the message?
• Read some of the following quotes without revealing who or when they were written:
The young people of today love luxury. They have bad manners, they scoff at authority and lack respect for their elders. Children nowadays are real tyrants, they no longer stand up when their elders come into the room where they are sitting, they contradict their parents, chat together in the presence of adults, eat gluttonously and tyrannise their teachers.” (Socrates 470—399BC)
“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint.” (Hesiod, 8th century BC)
“The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behaviour and dress.” (Extract from a sermon preached by Peter the Hermit in 1274 AD)
• Tell the group that these statements could be a headline from any tabloid newspaper. Then reveal who wrote them and when they were written.
• Newspaper headlines demonstrate that we are often overly focused on negative stories about young people. Issues such as anti-social behaviour, underage sex, gang violence and bullying are by far the most likely to be singled out by the media. Research by Mon found that three In four articles about young people were negative. Furthermore young people are largely absent in stories about themselves. Only eight per cent of articles included any comment or quote from young people. Furthermore MORI research for the Youth Justice Board carried out in 2003 reveals that only seven per cent of young people in mainstream schools have been in trouble with the police in the past year, and of the offences carried out the vast majority were not violent crimes. Two thirds of young people in a poll reported by the Daily Mail believed that they had been unfairly given a bad name by the minority of hooligans. Consequently, they believed that they should be praised for the good things that they do and not always be tarnished with the same brush of young people. Home Office Minister Hazel Blears, in the same article, said:
‘Young people around the country am fed up with being tarnished by the anti-social actions of a minority”
• The continued underpinning of stereotypes and the use of negative language, such as ‘yobs’ and ‘thugs’, impact on public opinion and fuels the fear of young people. Young people have only a slim chance of ever having any real control over the events and institutions that shape their lives. The only power they have is a negative one, which is to be a threat to order.
• What examples of young people do you have making a positive contribution to society?
• How respectful are adults to young people?
• How do they demonstrate this?
• In small groups get them to list three things that empower young people and three things that are a barrier to young people being heard.
Tips / Advice:
Instead of drawing a teenager you could get the group to make a video that portrays the life of a teenager.
For full details see the BB Company Section Discoverer Pro Pack, Community Local and National C2