Your Choice, Your Future – Staying Safe Campaign

Between 2010-2011 there were 78 stabbings in Southwark alone, 93 in Lambeth 60 in Lewisham.  As official reports suggest, the figures are increasingly concerning. However, arguably the actual numbers, considering unreported crimes, are much higher and the problem is much more wide spread and complex than it initially appears. We are constantly told knife crime is a high priority for government and local authorities, but many tried and tested methods including Stop and Search are simply ineffective. Knife crime is becoming a more prevalent part of our society and clearly we need to adopt a new approach if we are to witness a reduction in knife crime. For many, the recurrent articles about another young person being stabbed in one of London’s more notorious boroughs seems like a regular occurrence; so much so that it probably fails to have much effect anymore. Another young person’s life lost because of an argument over territory, a stolen blackberry or in one case, some conkers. As well as the endless stories and statistics relating to knife crime, it seems multiple campaigns have appeared and disappeared, with little or short term effect. Still, the problem persists and the question remains: why do so many young Londoners continue to carry knives? The Peabody Staying Safe Project funded by The Big Lottery has worked with over 100 young people across London to form Campaign Leadership Teams to raise awareness amongst young people about the impact of crime and violence. The Campaign Leadership Teams have set up campaigns, delivered workshops to over 600 young people and created apps, posters and other initiatives to keep young Londoners safe....

‘Youth-Hood’ as a concept, and what it means for equality

Within Society people communicate with one another by using signs, languages, and customs that are understood as concepts. Concepts generally have meaning by being compared with other concepts, namely an opposite one. For instance, the word ‘Youth’ derives its meaning from its opposite concept ‘Adult’. Consequently, the media influences our perception to form either a positive or negative perspective concerning certain concepts. Unfortunately, the concept ‘Youth’ has suffered as a a direct contrast with the concept ‘Adult’ being attributed with a positive identity by the media. Certain questions arise thereof. Can the word ‘Youth’ generate a positive identity? In what manner do adults benefit by being perceived in a favourable fashion. Lastly, does the media really hold such great weight in forming our judgements about issues in society? Although on paper, the media’s role is to transmit international and domestic news in an impartial manner, it does present biased information when reporting social problems. As a result, the term ‘Social Problem’ has been manufactured into the brand we call ‘Youth’. Consequently, the more negatively stereotyped ‘Youth-hood’ becomes, the more positively stereotyped its opposite concept ‘Adulthood’ becomes. Young people are not necessarily a negative group. They actually contribute towards the advancement of society in many areas of civic life. The voluntary sector, especially London’s 2012 Olympic Games will be predominantly run by young volunteers. However, as expected, the media has failed to recognise such honourable behaviour displayed by the young. As a consequence of the misrepresentation of young people, adults now possess absolute power and authority throughout all areas within our culture. This prohibits the intervention of young people democratically...

Trying to choose an ethical career path? Maybe it’s not the one you think

It’s tough being a young person without a career plan, particularly if you want more from your life’s work than just financial reward. Since I graduated in October I have been trying to find permanent employment, holding out for a role in the third sector which I hope I will find meaning in. I have, in other words, been following the conventional perspective that those with an ethical career in mind should get a job within a charity, NGO, political party, or some other ethical/non-profit organization. Like the many others in the same position, I have had little reason to question this approach, and have made my life choices accordingly. However, the idea that a traditional ‘ethical career’ is the best or only way of putting one’s working life to good use, may be deeply mistaken. A standard banking job commands a salary several times higher than a senior position at most NGOs. Why does this matter? Because an ethically-minded banker who donates all they earn above, say, the average wage of an NGO worker, could do a whole lot of ethical good – potentially many times the effects of working for an NGO oneself. You could fund the provision of clean drinking water for many hundreds of people, or pay for the NGO to employ several workers, as hard working and committed as you would have been, in your place. Part of the reason for this is that the third sector is badly lacking in funds, but not potential employees. Even if you are not working for a given ethical NGO, the hard truth is that such an organization will almost...

Mark Duggan, Smiley Culture, Trayvon Martin, and no justice

The Hispanic/American neighbourhood watch member, George Zimmerman had recently been brought to court to make his first public apperance after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, 17, on 26th February 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Martin was found bleeding in the nose and had a wound in his chest, while Zimmerman  argued that he shot Martin in self-defence.  It has since been argued that many Americans are prejudiced towards black youth, having a biased perception that they are dangerous to the society and thus do not grant them fair trials. Not very long ago, similar cases happened in the UK.  In 2011, David Victor Emmanuel, better known as Smiley Culture, who was a British reggage singer and deejay, died in his house from a knife wound in his heart, while the police asserted the stab was self-inflicted.  Although the death was investigated by the Independent Police Compalins Commission (IPCC), the final report of the case was neither made available to the public nor the victim’s family.  Clearly, there was a lack of transparency in the judicial system in this respective case. Mark Duggan, was also found dead in the UK by having a fatal gun shot in his chest in 2011 at age 29, caused by the police, in Tottenham, North-East London.  The police put forward that they were attempting to arrest Duggan on suspicion of a planned revenge attack of his cousin, and provided information that Duggan was carrying a gun with him.  The result of Duggan’s death had caused a public riot which involved a public demonstration and an attack on police vehicles in Tottenham, and later on escalated into...

Should A-level curricula be decided by university lecturers?

Education secretary Michael Gove recently wrote a letter to Ofqual (the committee that regulates exams) claiming that students are “woefully underprepared for university”. His plan to remedy this is to hand control over the content of A-levels to lecturers from Russell group universities. It’s safe to assume that this will make exams more difficult.Unlike Michael Gove, I go to an inner city state school. Many of my friends find it challenging to cope with the large gap in difficulty between GCSEs and A-levels. So students who are barely coping with the jump will have to deal with harder work and students coping fairly well will begin to struggle. Together they obviously make up the majority of students. Surely we should be helping them succeed rather than making their life more difficult. Gove has one piece of evidence. A poll carried out by Cambridge Assessment where three fifths of universities said they have catch-up classes for first year undergraduates. The main thing freshers seem to struggle with is ‘writing or critical thinking skills’. But there is no evidence saying the standards of exams are to blame. Perhaps the standard of teaching is at fault. Or the lack of resources that schools have thanks to budget cuts. In my experience, the style of teaching goes hand in hand with how well I learn. Teacher’s choice to spoon-feed students could be the reason for the lack of ‘critical thinking skills’.  As a student interested in science, practical lessons are essential in helping students understand the subject. In my school there has been a severe drop to the number of these lessons and...