Youth parliament deserves credit

Along with many other young people involved in UK Youth
Parliament, I was interested to see your article about the recent
review into UKYP (0-19 bulletin, 14 June, also Update, page 6).
Interested and disappointed.

In fact, the review has highlighted many issues which we were
already aware of, but lack the resources to tackle. We know we rely
on youth workers and local authorities, especially in England.

We think the review reflected perceptions as much as the reality
of what the situation is – for example, 20 per cent of members of
the youth Parliament (MYPs) are from black and minority ethnic
groups, around twice the proportion within the UK population as a
whole. At least 15 per cent live in inner city areas, many have
been homeless, in care, in trouble with the law, are single teenage
parents or any of a hundred or more “disadvantages” faced by young
people in the UK today.

It is also worth remembering that the basis of UKYP is the
democratic representative process and that MYPs are elected by
their peers, hundreds of thousands of them – in fact in several
areas attracting more voters than their Commons counterparts. Many
MYPs will go on to study at HE level – but this is no longer a
privileged minority (despite the debate over tuition fees!) with
the government aiming for 50 per cent of the population to go down
this route.

At the risk of sounding like a party political spokesman, we
need to get our message across better – UKYP is only effectively
three years old, with a managing body run by young people and with
limited resources and a very small staff team. The review needs to
be read alongside the action we have agreed with government as part
of a partnership which sees their support for us developing.

And finally, UKYP does not “claim to represent all young people”
in the UK – but it aspires to do that and as young people we
shouldn’t be aiming for anything less.

Ashley Sweetland
Co-chairman, board of trustees
UK Youth Parliament

Confidentiality contradiction

I am surprised at the contradictory stance adopted by 0-19 in
its last issue (special report, page 8, June). I agree that when it
comes to their sexual health, young people should have an
unquestionable right to confidential advice and treatment.

Young people are already terrified about asking for help when
they have a sexual health problem. However, I was shocked to find
that 0-19 copied the disgraceful example of other publications and
published the name of the 14-year-old girl who ignited the original
media debate.

Despite publishing a strong argument in favour of maintaining a
young person’s confidentiality the article did not follow
this through. The girl may be old enough to consent to an abortion,
but does she really have the life experience to be fully aware of
the implications of being splashed across the media?

In my view a professional publication like 0-19 did not need to
follow the tabloids.

Lisa Carter

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