Why we need to listen to voice of youth
LUCY CUMMING and LILY ORAM
BEING young is amazing. Fact. Most people creeping up in the age department look back on their teenage years as some of the best of their lives. We have heard too many times "you're so lucky" and "if only I could go back and do that".
This is, of course, the glory of hindsight. And why not look favourably back upon those years? The world and all its opportunities lie ahead of us; amongst them, the ability to be an independent generation.
But to do this we need recognition of our positive contributions to society instead of a constant focus on the negative aspects of youth culture. We need our voice to be taken seriously.
Writing for The Evening News has shown us that some adults are listening to this plea. Ongoing encouragement from parents and teachers to voice our opinions can sometimes be misleading when we are faced with others who view us with prejudice or dismiss our opinions.
When we are given opportunities to be published, it is usually in magazines aimed at our own age group. That is getting us absolutely nowhere.
The media are also to blame for their obsession with gang culture, antisocial behaviour and alcohol abuse. We regret that this exists in all age groups of our society. But it would be a less prominent issue if they focused on what young people are doing well. Let's try and put a stop to this ageism.
As members of our school Jazz Band, we were involved in playing a joint concert with Craigroyston School. We were surprised to find that we also asked to take part in a focus group where we met influential adults. They asked us our opinions on how we would like to be viewed by society and they actually listened to what we had to say.
Almost stuck for words, we managed to compile a few suggestions, including our own column in a top newspaper (looks like that went down well!). The evening was a taster of what we think would benefit all young people and we want the voice we have here, now, to not just be a one-off but to become if not a daily then a weekly voice.
We can see evidence that these age barriers are being broken down and can only hope that we are right. If this continues in the future, we know that the next generation to fill our shoes will benefit from the move towards equality. We are not a generation obsessed with fashion and celebrities. We, like adults, worry about current issues too. We are tomorrow's decision makers - trust us!
• Lucy Cumming and Lily Oram are pupils at St George's School for Girls
SIPHIWE MNGCOLWANI and CHRISTINA SOUTER
THE press are doing more harm than good in their portrayal of Scottish youth. What can now be seen as constant attack on us by media has become seriously damaging, not only to us but also to the perception of our local communities.
A negative picture is constantly being painted by the media. Whether they don't notice it or just don't care, they need to realise the part they play in destroying our morale. And remember, we are the future readers and listeners.
Thugs, gangs, hooligans, Asbo. You get the picture; the black hoodies, eyes hidden and a gritty black and white backdrop.
You can easily associate them with young people. But this is a distortion. It models a whole society after a tiny fraction of individuals in it. It is a shame that real lives of young people can be overshadowed by stereotypes.
Compare the stories plastered on pages every day and see how many of them are negative and sensationalised. Now think of the young people you actually know. The two don't add up. I can only associate the gap between the two as propaganda or just a culture of lazy journalism.
Why can't we look at the good actions as much as we publicise the bad stories? It's not because there is a shortage of good stories with no news value. At our school, Craigroyston High, you can find so many great achievements and talent. We have our own rock band, samba band, senior pupils who buddy juniors and volunteer at a special school. And that is just a few stories from only one school.
We can show our talents and good achievements by getting more good stories in the media. One place you find good news stories is local press like the North Edinburgh News. And earlier this week the Evening News had a story about a young actress from North Edinburgh. But these are exceptions that prove the rule. And there is no point putting a few token stories in local press alone. It doesn't reach enough people.
Let's make a big change. If young people had a more direct say in the media our voices could be heard and a real snapshot of our views could be vividly seen. Our image would be reflected with justice.
There is a way to do it. Would the press be willing to sign up to an agreement to balance coverage more fairly? This could be a historic young people's media charter. A drastic change may not be immediate, but every sentence in this column shows there is hope.
• Siphiwe Mngcolwani and Christina Souter are pupils at Craigroyston High School
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