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20 November, 2008

Youth Act research released: 'Our Stories - portrayal or betrayal?'

Youth Act today releases ‘Our Stories - portrayal or betrayal?' (21st November 2008). The report examines the impact of the media's representation of young people on young people's social and political participation. It is drawn from from research by young researchers aged 13 to 19.

‘Our Stories' is being launched at an event on the 21st of November at London's City hall that will bring together politicians, youth organisations, young people and the adults who support them.

The event takes place during National Youth Week (15 - 21 November 2008), which this year seeks to change public perceptions of young people and to examine the roles young people play in our communities.

‘Our Stories' is a step towards disentangling these issues. The Youth Act team conducted research with young people in three London boroughs using questionnaires and focus groups over 4 weeks. The result is a document that poses some challenging questions to politicians, youth service managers and the media about how their actions affect young people's participation.

'Our Stories' shows clear evidence of young people's belief in their own power to change their communities for the better, but their low expectation of public recognition. Most young people (61%) believe that their life and actions make them a good news story - yet only 5% think that such a news item would appear in the media.  Paradoxically, more than 40% thought that young people outside their own area are likely to engage in problem behaviour.  The report forces us to ask whether the media portrayal of young people actually encourages young people to take a negative view of one another, contributing to the culture of fear and mistrust that breeds gang crime. 

Sarwar, eighteen years old and a member of the Youth Act Urban Union, said:

‘Media representation of young people is almost always now negative- it's about time young people stood up and had their voice heard'.

The launch event on the 21st November is a chance to meet past Youth Act groups, who will be showcasing their campaigns and demonstrating how they have changed their local communities as well as participating in a debate about young people, the media, social action and politics. Young people, adults who have participated in Youth Act, fellow youth organisations and politicians will also be attending to help recognise the positive actions of young people in the capital.

For further information please contact Ade Sofola on 020 7566 5033 or 0785 467 3481. 

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