One-quarter of the world’s population is made up of young people, and almost one-quarter of knife crimes have been committed by the youth. 60% of those who are caught with a knife has been under 25 years old in London; the city with the most populated knife-related crimes. The West Midlands is second. A lot of these incidences have been assumed to be gang-related.
When thinking of people armed with knives, their automatic response is to let the justice system sort it out. But these are young people are exposed to violence because there is not enough youth engagement to keep them from getting caught up in the danger. They look for friendship, support, and independence but there’s a lack of trust and so engagement is being cut away. There has been a 38% reduction in funds what would have helped these young people. Without youth engagement, the risk of the annual count of knife crimes involving youth will most likely increase from 6500.
Since baby boomers have taken up most of the population it is becoming harder for young people to find jobs. Especially with the criticism that young people aren’t working hard enough. It isn’t because they don’t work hard enough, it’s because they don’t have enough experience. But how can these young people get experience when organisations don’t trust them enough to have them join?
Here are some ways that organisations can engage the youth:
1. Give Them Support
Some engagement comes in the form of work placements but a lot of the time young people aren’t given the chance to showcase what exactly they can do. It is fair that some organisations don’t have enough trust. Small mistakes could just lead to bigger problems. But how can the youth be expected to learn and gain experience when they do not have the ability to do so. Giving time and support to young people goes a long way.
Lyfeproof UK is a good example of an organisation that helps youth development. The not for profit organisation dedicates time to help improve the lives of young people through creative means, such as poetry, music, film and food. They work with youth from primary school level up to 25 year olds.
Not only do organisations need to trust but they must gain trust from young people. If you’re trying to engage youth in an area where it’s not normalised perhaps try involving the whole of the family. Lyfeproof is again another example of a way of bringing families together as the organisation do engage with families as part of the solution for youth development.
Parents make good advocates and campaigners; they understand parents and they know other parents. We mostly trust our parents or carers, so connecting with parents will help to connect with young people. Netmums and Mumsnet are great examples of how parents can make positive differences in reaching other young people.
3. Give Time
In our small poll with the young people from Birmingham and Black Country, a strong theme emerged; young people want flexibility. Not all young people have the same schedule. Some have school, some have part time jobs. Try not to limit when you want to engage with the youth; give time after school, in evenings, at the weekend. If you are flexible it gives more chances for young people to use their spare time to develop key skills. Setting taster sessions could also help them know what’s on offer, and you can use that time to figure out what days they prefer to engage. Don’t worry if the dates don’t suit everyone; it’s about inclusion and the trying.
4. Create a Youth Council
By creating a youth council you are creating a board which is more or less made up of young people who advice organisations on matters that are relevant to young people. Having school councils in school is great and sets a very limiting few up to leadership roles (not all the time) but by encouraging this idea further outside of educational institutions young people will not only learn more from you and develop skills that will be beneficial to you, but they will actually achieve something. If there’s one thing that young people want it’s for their voice to be heard.
That’s All Media met with the Dudley Youth Council, a group of young people who represent the youth’s view. We covered the photography of their awards; we liked their work so much that we created this promotional video for them. This is an example of a positive way to engage with young people and help them lead their own campaigns in sustainable ways.
To reach target audiences, campaigners have to use flexible means. It’ll take trial and error, but make sure that young people are a part of your planning and decision making. They will save you time and bring you fresh ideas, after all they are the future.
Written By: Sania Chughtai
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