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Equality

Initiative to Challenge Stereotyping of Young People

A resource pack on “Stereotyping of Young People”, developed by the Equality Authority and the National Youth Council of Ireland, was launched today March 12th by Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Children.

Representatives of the Fair Say Campaign also spoke at the launch. The Fair Say Campaign aims to challenge the representation of young people in the media.

Niall Crowley, CEO of the Equality Authority, highlighted that “It is important that we develop a strong and coherent strategy to challenge and eliminate the stereotyping of young people if we are to achieve equality for young people. Stereotyping of young people is widespread. Negative stereotypes that portray young people as threatening, irresponsible and given to excess, diminish young people. Positive stereotypes that portray young people as idealistic and dynamic patronise young people. All stereotypes disempower young people by attributing fixed characteristics to all young people. These stereotypes can underpin inequality for young people.”

The resource pack developed by the Equality Authority and the National Youth Council of Ireland is designed to encourage and support young people and young people’s organisations to challenge the stereotyping of young people.

The resource pack includes a range of activities to:

  • Enable young people to understand stereotyping and its impact on equality for young people
  • Support young people to identify and respond to stereotyping of young people and to stereotyping of other groups by young people
  • Empower young people and youth organisations to develop strategies and to take action to challenge stereotyping of young people by the media, in their local communities, by the Gardaí, security staff at commercial venues, at school and by politicians.

James Doorley, Assistant Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland stated at the launch: “This pack is an essential resource for youth workers and those that work with young people across the country. We hope it will enable anyone that deals with young people to teach them about stereotyping and learn positive and effective ways to address the issue.”

The Equality Authority and the National Youth Council of Ireland have previously published research on the stereotyping of young people. This stereotyping has been identified:

  • In the media, where the portrayal of young people was seen by young people as simplistic, unfair and very negative
  • In local communities where young people saw adults associating them with ‘hassle’
  • In relationships with the Gardaí where young people held the view that the Gardaí had a poor opinion of and little respect for young people
  • In commercial venues where staff, in particular security staff, were seen by young people as automatically regarding them as suspect
  • At school where the main concern of young people was about how little say they had in decision making and in how schools were run
  • In interactions with politicians where the predominant view of young people was that politicians saw them as unimportant.

Niall Crowley highlighted that “We hope that the resource pack will be widely used by young people and their organisations to challenge the stereotyping of young people. However, their response will only be effective if it forms part of a wider response to the stereotyping of young people. The starting point for this wider response should be the removal of the lower age limit to the age ground as defined under the Equal Status Act. This would allow the Equality Authority to challenge harassment or discrimination against young people under eighteen on the age ground in the provision of goods and services, accommodation and education. This challenge will be important in addressing the impact of stereotyping of young people and to securing an end to such stereotyping.”

We focus on a wide range of issues in relation to equality and the youth sector. In 2010 the one area we are focusing on is:

*The extension of the Equal Status Act to include those under 18

What do we want to achieve?

The extension of the Equal Status Act to include those under eighteen.

Why?

We believe in equality for all, which includes greater equality of treatment for young people in Irish society. At the moment our laws don’t give young people under eighteen the same rights as adults, which can lead to the discrimination of young people. Young people under the age of eighteen should not be treated as second class citizens by the State when it comes to vindicating and protecting their rights.

In recent years we have seen the consequences of the inferior status and protection given to young people in previous decades, most starkly in relation to young people in care. Equality in Law for Young People Under Eighteen While there has been progress in recent years with the development of the National Children’s Strategy, the National Children’s Office and the Children’s Ombudsman, there is still institutional discrimination against young people.

This means that young people can be legally discriminated against in the provision of goods and services, for example, a restaurant owner can legally refuse to serve young people under eighteen in their premises. Legislation in itself will not stamp out discrimination, but over time and if properly enforced, it can lead to a change in behaviour.

How?

It is important that when negative stereotyping of young people is present, existing legislation is extended to include those under eighteen so it serves to counter discrimination of young people as well as adults.

Progress -

To date there has been no progress on this issue.

What can I do?

As an organisation: Lobby Government

As an individual: Support us by engaging in debate with your local TD on this issue.