Archives For News

News items and stories relevant to informal education and work with young people

You may have missed this one, but the video below shows 15 year old Barnaby Raine speaking out against the UK Government on the recent hike in University Fees. From the Huffington Post:

The impassioned plea was made at the Coalition of Resistance National Conference in Camden, U.K., on Nov. 27, a youth, students and education workshop…

He builds up to this sequence toward the end of the video: “They can’t stop us demonstrating, they can’t stop us fighting back, and how ever much they try to imprison us in the streets of London, those are our streets. We will always be there to demonstate, we will always be there to fight.”

Here’s the video:

The comments on the Huffington Post and Boing Boing articles are interesting to follow, with many praising Barnaby for his courage and articulation, and others criticising his over-simplification of the political issues. Regardless of opinion on the university fees rise and the violent protests that occurred in London as a result, I’m simply amazed at the oratory skills of such a young man. I don’t know many people in their early 20’s who could do public speaking like that, let along mid-teens!

New research by Michigan State University has found that mobile phone use by young people doesn’t appear to do any harm to their educational achievement.

A three-year study of students from 20 schools found that using mobiles had no effect on the educational results of a group of 12-year-olds.

I’m sure teens will welcome the news by continuing to text message in class! 😉
The study also looked at video game use which showed mixed results:

while the researchers found a strong relationship between video games and lower results, gaming did not appear to affect skills in mathematics and actually had a positive relationship with visual-spatial skills.

Interesting news for all those involved with young people, but specifically those in school environments. How can this research be incorporated into lessons?

Link via @joshdhaliwal on twitter

Back in November I wrote about the development of Government databases (such as ContactPoint) that collect information on young people. I mused that:

While there may be legitimate uses for this data, what is happening is that the records are never removed and so any interaction with the police, social services, schools etc. are permanently visible to the professionals who access the system regardless of whether a young person has reformed, changed, grown, or otherwise developed from when those interactions occurred.

Today The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust has published a report on the UK Database State, which finds that:

  • A quarter of all major public sector databases are fundamentally flawed and almost certainly illegal. These should be scrapped or redesigned immediately;
  • The database state is victimising minority groups and vulnerable people, from single mothers to young black men and schoolchildren;
  • Children are amongst the ‘most at risk’ from Britain’s Database State, with three of the largest databases set up to support and protect children failing to achieve their aims;
  • Data sharing is a barrier to socially responsible activities. It is deterring teenagers from accessing health advice and undermining goodwill towards law enforcement;
  • Only 15% of major public sector databases are effective, proportionate and necessary;
  • We spend £16 billion a year on public sector IT and a further £105bn spending is planned for the next five years – but only 30% of public-sector IT projects succeed.

Take a look at the full report to see the findings.

H/T: Ian Brown via Boing Boing

I noticed this short news article about how a British Neuroscientist is concerned that Social Networks such as Facebook, MySpace, et al can permanently alter the minds of young people.

Greenfield said while the government was looking into issues around online child safety and privacy, the issue of how sites such as Bebo and MySpace were changing young people’s minds had not yet been addressed.

One of the concerns… was that their minds would be ‘infantilised’, and suffer with short attention spans, sensationalism and an inability to empathise.

Sense of identity would also be questioned by those growing up online, where sites encourage them to build personal profiles.

Although there’s not much more information on the original article, Google News search shows a variety of reactions with the Chicago Tribune posting a interesting article.

I noticed this bit of news in my reader today.

PAISLEY’S famous YMCA building is being axed after 100 years of service to the town.

Over the years I’ve met a number of workers from Paisley YMCA through my study at The George Williams College so was surprised and a little sad to hear the news. No doubt there are valid reasons behind the decision to close, although it seems to have upset the local community:

Parents have been left stunned by the closure plans and said the loss of the YMCA building is a “major blow” for Paisley.
One dad, who asked not to be named, said: “My son has enjoyed various activities at the Paisley YMCA over the years and we’ll both be very sad to see it go.
“That place has done a great job in keeping kids off the streets and out of trouble. It’s such a shame that it’s closing down.”
Another parent added: “I was shocked when I found out the place is closing down.
“It’s been there for more than 100 years and generations of Buddies have benefited from what it’s had to offer.”

It does remind me of when we closed The WIRE back in March 2007. Hopefully, like The WIRE, more creative and innovative work will grow out of the closure.

While off last week, I was invited to go to the launch of Barnardo’s new “Children In Trouble” campaign. As I was unable to make it, I watched with interest what the campaign would focus on. Yesterday, I found this article from BBC News covering the new TV Advert.

In summary, Barnardo’s commissioned a YouGov survey on adult’s attitudes towards children in the UK. The results found that around half of the 2000 people interviewed felt children were increasingly becoming a danger to others. Martin Narey, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s said:

“It is appalling that words like animal, feral and vermin are used daily in reference to children.
“Despite the fact that most children are not troublesome there is still a perception that today’s young people are a more unruly, criminal lot than ever before.
“The British public overestimates, by a factor of four, the amount of crime committed by young people.
“The real crime is that this sort of talk and attitude does nothing to help those young people who are difficult, unruly or badly behaved to change their ways.”

Congratulations to Barnardo’s for raising awareness of these sad attitudes, and for working to change them. For those of us trying to encourage and champion young people, it seems we have a lot more to do!

Thanks to EasyRew for this one (via Facebook).

Family Court Statistics

21 October 2008 — 47 Comments

My good friend Dave sent me this dramatic photo he took from an article in today’s Independent newspaper regarding opening up the Family Courts to the public.

In 2007, Family Courts in England and Wales…
heard 107,075 cases involving children
recieved 138,000 petitions for divorce
issued 26,901 domestic violence orders

Continue Reading...

The Truth About Teen Girls

16 September 2008 — 1 Comment

Here’s a great article from Time Magazine that goes beyond the media hype to look at the real reasons for a growing trend in ‘sexy’ behaviour among teenage girls. From the article:

Like steak-house owners trying to raise vegetarians, we idealize youth and sexiness but recoil if our young want to be sexy. What has complicated things recently is that girls are literally getting older younger. Their bodies are hitting physical maturity sooner, often before they are ready to deal with the issues of sexuality that go along with it.

Thanks to threebillion

As crazy as this sounds, The Register is reporting that a Baptist Church in Oklahoma recently tried to give away an AR-15 Assault Rifle as a way of attracting young people to attend the church. Apparently a local TV station intervened to stop the annual shooting competition. A statement is now posted on the church Youth Conference Website about the media attention.

Although the shooting competition that was to take place during the Youth Conference had been canceled, due to false statements made by the Oklahoma City TV Channel 5 (KOCO) and subsequently reported also by media outlets across the country, a shotgun was donated last Saturday so that the competition could go on as planned.

If Congress, back when our country was fighting for its independence could give engraved muskets to the fifteen or so eleven year old boys that their teacher, Mr. Akins, led into battle against the British, then we can give away a firearm still today, especially since our Supreme Court just re-emphasized our Second Amendment rights.

The Register also has a quote from the Youth Pastor:

Bob Ross claimed the main thrust of the conference wasn’t about guns but rather “teens finding faith”. He stressed that the event featured 21 hours of preaching between bursts of gunfire, and defended: “I don’t want people thinking ‘My goodness, we’re putting a weapon in the hand of somebody that doesn’t respect it who are then going to go out and kill. That’s not at all what we’re trying to do.”

Shooting recreationally is a sport and arguably an acceptable activity for a youth group, but why then make a big deal of giving away a rifle? Is that really necessary?

Using examples from America’s independence and the Second Amendment, the church now seems to be vehemently defending their right to bear arms and enjoy recreational shooting as shown by the emails of support published here.

I personally find it very difficult to reconcile the teachings of Christ with defending yourself and your property as this church seems to advocate. In fact Jesus was famously non-violent when faced with accusations, criticism and torture.

“Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39)

Jesus taught enemy love with imagination. He gave three real examples of how to interact with our adversaries. In each instance, Jesus points us toward disarming others. Jesus teaches us to refuse to oppose evil on its own terms. He invites us to transcend both passivity and violence through a third way.
Shane Claibourne and Chris Haw: Jesus For President

I think Gorillaz helpfully articulated the horror of encouraging children to shoot each other:

Kids with guns, Kids with guns
Taking over
But it won’t be long
They mesmerized, skeletons
Kids with guns, Kids with guns
Easy does it, easy does it, they got something to say “no” to

I’m loving the satirical news posted over at NewsBiscuit and this particular article caught my eye!

‘Supply vicars’ unable to control unruly congregation

Rural parishes unable to find permanent members of the clergy have been forced to bring in supply vicars whose inexperience and lack of authority has made them vulnerable to disruptive parishioners, says a new report.

One temporary priest was reduced to tears with heckling and catcalling during his sermon, and when he looked up he saw that all the church-goers had turned their pews round to face the opposite direction. ‘These young supply vicars do not have the experience to be able to hold the attention of wayward Christians,’ admitted the Archbishop of Canterbury. ‘The moment they turn their back they are pelted with screwed up service sheets and Alpha Course leaflets made into paper planes, and many of them just don’t know what to do.’

In a small church in South Devon, one vicar was subjected to mass humming, while another gradually became aware that the mumbling and feigned coughing around the congregation was part of a daring game where each church-goer had to say the word ‘bollocks’ slightly louder than the last. In extreme cases of disruption, tearful vicars have run out to the vestry and phoned for the bishop, who has had to come down and give the congregation a serious talking to.

‘People imagine that church-goers are serene and gentle people, but nothing could be further from the truth’ said one vicar who has quit the Church after the pressure became too great. ‘On one occassion I asked the elderly congregation what they normally did for Evensong, and the old ladies told me they usually did black mass and sacrificed a goat to Beelzebub. How was I to know it was a wind up? It was only when I smeared the goat’s blood on my face and saw them giggling that I realized I had made a bit of an idiot of myself.’