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Panel quizzed at Young People's Question Time

Reporter:

James Hockaday

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Youngsters asked challenging questions on crime, education and the media at a Young People's Question Time event at The Curve on Tuesday.

Organised by youth charity Aik Saath and Slough Borough Council's Young People’s Service, the first Young People's Question Time took place in 2015.

They have now held six events, allowing youngsters to debate and ask important questions about what is happening in Slough.

I was invited to this week's event at the William Street cultural centre, along with representatives from Slough Borough Council, Slough Youth Parliament and Thames Valley Police.

Youngsters quizzed us with intelligent questions on preventing youth crime, making Slough more eco-friendly by encouraging cycling, lowering the voting age and ensuring Slough schools offer a broad curriculum.

Challenging how youth crime is portrayed in the media, SBC's head of wellbeing and community Ketan Gandhi said: "For every young person who's committed a crime, there are 500 people who do good things."

He called for a 'culture change' saying youngsters’ positive achievements should be in the news all the time.

I was quick to point out that while we have a duty inform the public of crime in their area, we regularly showcase youngsters' good work and invited them to get in touch with positive stories.

In aid of Local Newspaper Week this week, I emphasised how local media tends to have much more light and shade in its choice of stories compared to national press.

Education proved a hot topic of the evening with audience members calling for schools to teach more real-life skills to tackle the stigma of non-academic paths and to improve students' behaviour.

The contentious debate over whether grammar schools widen or narrow the equality gap was also brought up.

Aik Saath project manager Rob Deeks told the Express: "It wasn't the largest attendance we've had but it was one of the most engaged.

"The young people's questions were mature, heartfelt and incisive.

"I think all of the professionals that were on the panel and in the audience will be going back in to work today feeling re-energised by the enthusiasm and commitment of the young people."

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