Shannon Holland-Houghton, a former Youth Parliament member from Boston, writes this week’s guest column...
The news story on the Kent Police Commissioner and Youth Commissioner has really angered me.
I was a Member of Youth Parliament for two years, receiving the ‘Youth Achiever’ and ‘Overall Achiever’ at the Boston Standard Pride Awards for my effort and achievements, so know exactly what a challenge it is to change the perception of young people from such a harshly negative stereotype.
Showing young people in a positive light was always one of my main aims as an MYP.
Whilst I am not going to pretend that youth crime is not an issue in this country, I was disgusted that police commissioner Ann Barnes justified her Youth Commissioner’s tweets about illegal substances, binge drinking and her homophobic and racist remarks, by saying that she is representative of an ‘ordinary teenager’.
I was in a position for two years where I met a lot of interesting and extremely hard working young people from a wide range of social backgrounds.
What angers me most is that the commissioner is only adding to the negative stereotype of young people. And I’m sick to death of it. Does she not realise that it is also her job to represent young people?
So many people in positions of power forget that although many people aren’t old enough to vote, they still have voices that deserve to be heard.
Why can’t we, as a society, focus in on those young people who give up their weekends and free time to volunteer in charity shops or for businesses to gain a real insight into what their future career may hold?
I myself have worked really hard to secure a range of political work experience, with our local MP and also a few days in Brussels with the European Parliament!
Also, why can’t we focus our attention on offering more support and respect to young carers? Why can’t we focus on how well children and young people are doing academically?
I am basically writing this to encourage all young people to fight the negative stereotyping, and to continue working with drive and determination, to prove these people wrong.
The constant negative stereotyping is such an immense barrier that adults could never imagine. It makes it more difficult for young people to be received in so many public forums.
I would also like to let adults know that we should be given more chances and not to believe such rubbish. We are not all bad, and we do not deserve to be brandished as racists, binge drinkers or drug users.
We contribute a lot to society and we should be rewarded with better publicity!