Inequality to blame for riots, say young people - October 20
Seventy-one per cent of 11-18 year-olds taking part in the first HeadsUp forum of the new school year, How equal is Britain? thought that inequality was either mostly or partly to blame for the riots in English cities this year.
The How equal is Britain? debate, running from September 26 - October 14, attracted a record number of comments from young people. The forum covered a variety of issues ranging from the role of inequality in the recent riots to equal representation in Parliament and sexism in sport. You can read the full report of the debate here.
Opinion was divided on the reasons for the riots:
"I believe that the people who got involved in the riots had a reason. Maybe it was because the government were not really taking care of them. They have got nothing left, so they have got nothing to lose."
"I don't think there was a message behind the riots because it could have started for a reason but most people that were involved with it were doing it for the excitement and money that looting provides."
Those taking part in the forum were asked if inequality played a part in the riots:
· 31% thought inequality was mostly to blame
· 40% thought that inequality was partly to blame
· 16% thought people involved were responsible for their own actions
· 13% were not sure what caused the riots
Equal representation of women in Parliament also attracted a lot of posts, with many agreeing with Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP, who took part in the debate:
"Over half the population is female, yet we have a situation in which the important decisions about the future of the country are taken by men."
There was some debate as to how this might best be achieved, with some students supportive of fairer gender representation but stopping short of endorsing quotas:
"People should be chosen to become MPs based on how well they will be able to do their job, not on their gender, sexuality or race."
There was also extensive discussion of women in sport. Posters felt that women had fewer sporting opportunities than men, owing to limited TV coverage, stereotypes about specific sports for each gender and poor P.E. lessons at school:
"When I was younger I was put off sport, because I never saw female players, which made me think that women weren't allowed to participate. It totally put me off sport and I never tried because I didn't think it would be a job possibility."
For further information, contact Beccy Allen at the Hansard Society on 020 7438 1214 or at email@example.com
o All quotes come direct from the forum and are unedited. Over 100 young people took part in the debate; there were 4,254 visits to the website, with 1,169 posts.
o The full forum report for How equal is Britain? can be downloaded here.
o HeadsUp (http://www.headsup.org.uk/content/) is an online debating space for 11-18 year-olds, run by the independent and non-partisan Hansard Society, to enable young people to discuss their views on political issues with their peers and influential decision-makers.
It aims to build levels of political awareness and participation so that young people can play an effective role in the democratic processes affecting their lives.
HeadsUp is also a space that politicians and political parties can use to consult with young people and find out their ideas, experiences and opinions.
o HeadsUp was runner up in the Empowering Young People and Citizens category at the 2010 Nominet Internet Awards - recognising best practice use of the internet.
o Two ways to register to take part in HeadsUp:
· Young People - If you are 11-18 and want to get in on the action you need to complete the Student Sign Up Form.
· Teachers/youth workers - can register a whole class/school year/group by completing our Teachers Registration Form
o The project is part-funded by the House of Commons.
o There are currently over 1000 schools and youth organisations registered on HeadsUp.
o The decision-makers supporting the forum were:
· Angela Burns AM - Conservative Shadow Minister for Education;
· Christine Chapman AM - Member, Children and Young People Committee;
· Caroline Lucas MP - Leader of the Green Party;
· Siobhan McMahon MSP - Member, Equal Opportunities Committee;
· Ian Mearns MP - Member, Education Committee;
· Baroness Estelle Morris - former Minister for Education;
· Meg Munn MP - Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women and Enterprise;
· Jenny Rathbone AM - Member, Children and Young People Committee;
· Tim Woodhouse - Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation.