Young people lead Westminster debate
110 young Londoners joined politicians and policy professionals at the House of Commons, for a debate on social media and Sex & Relationships Education.
The event was organised by Peabody in partnership with End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), The Children’s Commissioner, and Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC). This was part of a Peabody project funded by European education scheme ERASMUS+, which offers young people a chance to better understand the political system.
The young leaders aged between 12 and 25, designed and delivered the entire programme, including a panel discussion on how schools can engage young people and parents on issues around social media, abusive relationships, sexting, grooming and radicalisation, and how Government policy could do more to support those affected.
Robin Walker, PPS to Education Minister Nicky Morgan joined Southwark MP Neil Coyle and panel members Graham Ritchie (Office of the Children’s Commissioner), Will Gardener (Childnet), Jo Sharpen (AVA) and Sarah Green (EVAW) at the event.
The young people held up 'off-topic' cards if they felt the adults were steering the conversation away from the main issues, and a red 'Time' card to ensure the speakers delivered their key points promptly.
EVAW also launched a new resource for schools to help promote better understanding around sexual consent.
Robin Walker MP said:
"I was enormously impressed at the thoughtfulness of the discussion led by young people and at the range of ideas, challenges and issues discussed at the event. I think it was very valuable for those policy makers present to hear from these bright young people and to have some of our assumptions about social media challenged.
I shall certainly feed back their ideas and thoughts to the Department of Education and the Secretary of State, who as both Education Secretary and Secretary for Women and Equalities has a particularly strong interest in this area."
Isabel Chapman, Project Manager at Peabody said: "This project has been incredibly inspiring and innovative; we have seen high engagement rates and high attendance across the events of young people, MPs and professionals.
The young campaigners have demonstrated how politically engaged young people are and that they are keen to influence policy concerning SRE, social media and sexting."
Betty Puckey Lead Campaigner of the RSIC project and student at The Grey Coat Hospital School said:
"Our event at the House of Commons shows that we need opportunities to discuss issues of social media and sexting.
The fact that we hosted an event in Parliament made us feel very important and the room was full, so the topic is definitely relevant to lots of other people. We hope we can make a difference and encourage the Government to take social media seriously."