Our time at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference 2013 had come to an end. After three days of debating, discussing and information sharing, there was a lot to digest on a broad spectrum of subjects ranging from the economy to education to Europe.
From a young person’s perspective it was refreshing to see that a lot of issues that were discussed were those that influenced young people. These ranged from youth unemployment, school dinners, and amendments to university financing, all of which showed that young people play a vital role in decision making. It also showed that even though a lot of young people are ‘turned off’ by politics, politics does encompass issues that directly affect young people.
As part of a young persons charity, we often find that if you speak about the issues affecting young people, rather than party politics, that most young people are highly passionate and motivated to discuss solutions and to seek change. With that in mind, it is important to involve youth in decisions that will affect them as much as possible.
Although there’s no doubt there were some important children’s issues on the agenda, it did surprise me that bullying, particularly cyber bullying, wasn’t really on the agenda. With high-profile cases in the media recently such as teen Hannah Smith who committed suicide following months of horrific online tormenting, we were surprised that this wasn’t an issue that was really discussed.
Bullying has always been a problem, but with the huge explosion of social media in more recent years, it’s become clear that it is an issue that needs addressing, particularly by decision makers. We need to make sure we keep up with the issue and put safeguards in place as soon as possible. Kids Count made sure to champion this at the conference by talking to delegates like Tim Farron MP and the Rt Hon David Laws MP about our “I Stand For” anti-bullying empowerment campaign. We invite politicians like them to stand up and tell us what they stand for so young people can see they shouldn’t be ashamed of who they are. The soundbites that we collect will be made into a short promotional video for our campaign, so watch this space!
While disappointed bullying wasn’t discussed more, we were happy to see that domestic abuse WAS on the agenda; “Preventing and Tackling Sexual and Domestic Violence”.
As the motion said, “1.2 million women and 800,000 men in the UK last year alone suffered domestic abuse”, hence it’s clearly a big issue that needs addressing.
In Kids Count we’ve found this is an issue that effects a lot of young people in their own relationships as well as within their family; often they haven’t been educated to realise that this behaviour is wrong. It was good to see that in this motion, young people were specifically mentioned as needing more understanding of what domestic abuse is. We think that there needs to be laws and safeguards in place specifically relating to young people as in the past domestic abuse hasn’t really been considered in relation to youth.
An ideal place to start would be to have education in schools on youth domestic violence as the Liberal Democrat motion proposes, but we would like to see further moves from politicians to prevent this kind of behaviour in future.
On that note, reflecting back on the conference there has been some necessary subjects discussed and moves made for improvement and some issues I would have expected to see discussed that weren’t. You can’t have everything, especially since politics encompasses so much, but it’s been really interesting to witness how engaged in community issues some politicians are.
We would like to thank all the politicians and delegates we met for making us so welcome and the Glaswegians for their warmth and friendliness.
Until next time!