Following the UK Youth Parliament’s takeover of the House of Commons chamber, the British Youth Council is saddened to learn of the abuse being aimed at Members of Youth Parliament on social media. The British Youth Council feel this abuse has no place in political debate.
On Friday 9th November 2018, Members of the UK Youth Parliament gathered from across the UK to debate in the House of Commons chamber. Ending knife crime, mental health, ‘equal pay, for equal work’, tackling homelessness and ‘votes at 16’ were all topics of debate. Each topic was chosen in a record-breaking ballot of more than 1.1 million young people. At the end of the day, they marked the Representation of the People Act 1918 which granted the vote to some women and all men.
Commenting on the abuse, Jo Hobbs, Chief Executive of the British Youth Council, the charity which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said “The British Youth Council will always encourage political debate. We feel it’s imperative young people are given the opportunity to discuss their opinions. Which are valid and should be listened to. We believe in a world in which every young person is empowered to create social and political change.
“Staff at the British Youth Council were alarmed to learn about the tirade of abuse aimed at Members of Youth Parliament. We feel this abuse is wrong and should be condemned publicly.
“We were saddened to learn that some of the abuse contained threats of violence and homophobic language which should have no place on social media platforms. The British Youth Council is committed to the implementation of equal opportunities throughout its work. In its meetings, activities, services and as an employer, we feel no person should be discriminated against.
“The British Youth Council affirms that it has a role in combating discrimination throughout society, as all forms of discrimination form a barrier to participation. It also calls upon its member organisations to actively address and positively support these issues within their own structures.
“We are proud of the diversity of the UK Youth Parliament. Members of Youth Parliament widely represent the changing face of modern Britain. 55% of the Members of the Youth Parliament are female, 30% are from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background, 24% identify as lesbian, bisexual or gay and 22% consider themselves disabled.”
Jo went on to say: “We also found comments levelled at the appearance of Members of Youth Parliament, revealing much more still needs to be done by social media platforms to ensure this kind of abuse is not deemed acceptable or normalised.
“Last year the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee ruled body dissatisfaction was having a detrimental effect on young people with long-lasting consequences for health, education and wider life outcomes. Whilst it was clear social media companies had taken some steps to mitigate the negative effects of their platforms, they are still not taking their responsibilities seriously enough.”
In November 2017, the British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee concluded body dissatisfaction causing long-lasting consequences for young people.
The British Youth Council would encourage anyone receiving abuse on social media to make reports to the social media platforms using the tools available. The British Youth Council would also encourage people to make reports to their local police service if they feel the abuse amounts to a criminal offence.
The British Youth Council have made a series of reports to Twitter detailing the abuse, threats and homophobic language being used.
Anyone experiencing bullying online or abuse should use the support centre developed by the Diana Award which offers advice and support on a number of issues. The Diana Award is urging schools to celebrate what makes pupils unique during Anti-Bullying Week which takes place from Monday 12th-17th November 2018. Anti-Bullying Week is designed to inspire young people to stand up to bullying in schools and to create a robust anti-bullying culture that is safe for all.