Press Release

Minister for Children launches Inequality and the Stereotyping of Young People

The Minister for Children, Brian Lenihan has said society has a responsibility to improve the relationship between adults and children. The Minister was speaking at the launch of Inequality and the Stereotyping of Young People, a report commissioned by the National Youth Council of Ireland and the Equality Authority. He congratulated both organisations for commissioning the research and said ‘I would also like to acknowledge the children and young people who took part in the focus groups’.

The Minister said since taking up his post he had seen at first hand the positive contribution that children and young people can make in their local communities and at national level. He said a very small minority of young people experience struggles and challenges, which may bring them into conflict with their families, communities or the authorities.

‘The picture that emerges from this research is that young people feel that they are perceived in a very negative light by adults – that the actions of these few outweigh the positive actions of the many. As a result, their institutional relationships with adults are for the most part unequal, troubled and rooted in stereotypical ideas. It is also evident that the media needs to take more care in its portrayal of young people. As a society, we have a responsibility to improve the relationship between adults and children’ said Minister Lenihan.

The Minister noted that the National Children’s Strategy makes an explicit commitment under Goal 1, that Children will have a voice in matters which affect them and their views will be given due weight, in accordance with their age and maturity. ‘It is therefore Government policy to promote the participation of children and young people in civic society. This commitment is in line with Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’ he added.

‘Children and young people are given the opportunity to participate at local and national level, through Comhairle na nÓg and Dáil na nÓg. The Comhairle process was initiated in 2002 and has now been established in all 34 City and County Development Board areas. The Office of the Minister for Children is working to ensure that Comhairle na nÓg will become permanent and effective structures in local communities, ensuring meaningful participation by children and young people’ stated the Minister.

‘Dáil na nÓg 2006 will take place on 25 March in Croke Park and I will be present for the full proceedings. The themes selected by the young delegates, elected at Comhairle na nÓg, are Facilities for Young People and Migration and Interculturalism’ continued Minister Lenihan.

‘Student councils provide another mechanism for young people to have a voice I will be launching the Student Council Resource Pack and Diary in March. These resources are the first of their kind ever produced in the country and will be sent to every second-level school in the country’ he added.

‘In May of last year, I launched a public consultation on Recreation and Young People. I wanted to ensure that young people and other interested parties had the opportunity to have their say in how the policy is developed. Approximately 900 responses were received and the results of the consultation will be published in April and will help to shape the policy. The Recreation Policy will examine ways for young people to become involved in recreational sport, dance, art, drama, music as well as simply ‘hanging-out’ with friends. We will look at increasing the opportunities for young people who are marginalised, disadvantaged, who are ill or who have a disability as research suggests that these young people may experience particular difficulties in accessing recreation facilities’ said Minister Lenihan.

‘In December the Government decided to expand my role and set up the Office of the Minister for Children (OMC). The OMC brings together key personnel from the Departments of Health and Children, Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Education and Science to focus on the harmonising policy issues that affect children and young people. I now have an opportunity to represent young people’s interests at the Cabinet table in my enhanced ministerial role. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the importance of children and young people’s contribution. I note that a number of the recommendations made in today’s report, support and build on the work already being done in my Office’ concluded Minister Lenihan.