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Dr Stephanie Petrie is an Honorary Research Fellow in the University of Liverpool’s School of Law and Social Justice
“The disapprobation expressed by adults for tweets sent two years before Paris Brown was appointed to Youth Commissioner and that led to her resignation is not only hypocritical, but dangerous if we want young people to be part of the society in which they live.
“Understanding the world of young people is only possible if there is insight into their perspectives and constructions. Without their active involvement this is difficult to achieve.
“It has been argued that children and young people are a marginal group with little power whose realities have been unrecognised and whose competencies are discouraged.
“Those who are ‘different’ because of ethnic origin, migrant status, physical or learning impairments are even more marginal.
“Their experiences and perspectives are not only different but can go unrecognised with devastating consequences, as the recent and ongoing child sex abuse scandals have shown.
“International conventions, such as the UNCRC (1989), and our own domestic legislation recognise the rights of the young to participate in decisions about their own lives.
“There is increasing evidence to show that such involvement is possible and furthermore highly effective. It is ironic, therefore, that whilst the opinions of young people are disregarded about matters that concern them, positive attention comes from the commercial sector, as young people are an important group of consumers.
“Sadly the response to the Youth Commissioner highlights the main desire of powerful adults to criticise and marginalise young people if profit is not involved.
“Without a receptive attitude by adults, constructive dialogue cannot take place.
“In the absence of this dialogue our young people will be further alienated from the society in which we all live.”
It’s regrettable that we live in a world which is so sycophantically focused on discovering one’s flaw or mistake – and then waving it about mercilessly for all to see – that everyone seems to have forgotten that the best lessons are learnt by those who actually have the lessons to learn in the first place. So this girl had a bit of potty mouth online – who doesn’t these days? Certainly most young people have their lary moments as they try to assert their identities in a society which constantly seems to ignore all the set of exceptional skills that the older, fed up generations have sacked off but which young people are fresh with and ready to apply. Paris Brown wasn’t a goody two-shoes – good! I’m not saying that everyone wants to eat hash cookies or get drunk, but it’s not the angelic group of young people that the police force need to reach out to. It’s the ones who may be prone to ‘anti-social’ and offensive behaviour, surely it makes sense for this role to be taken by someone who IS that, who knows that, who can empathise, rather than shpeeling a load of patronising nonsense of “I used to be young once; I did try cannabis – oh but I never inhaled!”. If this young woman was truly a terror, then there is warrant for her dismissal. However, for the sake of a few lary admissions to her friends via an online tool devised and aided by the grown-ups of this world, you’ve shot yourself in the foot getting rid of somebody who clearly had the necessary skills to be awarded this role in the first place. It’s not Paris Brown who needs to grow up, it’s the childish reactionists who are afraid to stand up for anyone who shows anything but constant virtue. That simply isn’t real life, and you need to let the future leaders of this world make mistakes and learn from them or else we’ll all be ruled by a bunch of naive nitwits.
Surely the question remains – what are we doing paying this young woman Â£15k a year to individually represent the voice of youth? I’m all for a diverse panel of representatives to represent all members of our diverse youth, but one individual cannot possibly represent the views of a generation and should not be paid such a large sum to do so.
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