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Life as a young carer: Catapulted To Maturity Making £100 a week: Black Market Playgrounds Is it OK to Touch? Sexual Bullying Do UK kids have it easy compared to the rest of the world?
Welcome to the latest edition of Loud ‘N’ Clear magazine. These pages – written by, and for young people – contain the results of nearly a year’s work raising the voice of 8-19 year olds in Islington. Our Headliners reporters have been investigating the goings-on in the borough and the views of young people. Inside this edition we find out what it is like to be a young carer, how sexual bullying is impacting on young people, do British kids have it easy compared to other nations, how some young people are making a packet in the playground and much much more. Enjoy! Thank you Loads of people and organisations have been involved in Loud ‘N’ Clear over this year. Massive thanks go to Maria and everyone at the Eritrean Youth Club, Chris and Graham at Kings Corner Project, Sophie and Martina at Body and Soul, and Rebecca at Family Action. Most of all thanks to all the Headliners reporters for their hard work and energy.
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3. If I could Change 1 Thing... 4. Is it OK to Touch? 6. Residential 8. Got it Easy 10. Black Market Playgrounds 12. Catapulted to Maturity 14. Private Places 15. Word on the Street Loud ‘N’ Clear is an outreach programme coordinated by Headliners in partnership with Islington Council Children’s Services.
This magazine has been produced by reporters from Headliners, an organisation working with young people aged 8-19. We promote young people’s voices through our national news agency run for and by children and young people.
Headliners UK 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA Tel: 0207 749 9360 www.headliners.org Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: HeadlinersUK
IF I COULD CHANGE Emerald, 11
If you could change one thing about your area what would it be? I would change the buses at night. There are drunken people on them and they could be dangerous.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be? I would change the ways people behave to each other. Wars are made by people not getting along and disagreeing, fighting and then killing each other for no reason.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? My reaction to bad people. I feel all fiery and bad inside and this makes me feel uncomfortable and this needs to stop. Lily, 8
If you could change one thing about your area what would it be? Dog owners should pick up their dogs droppings all the time.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
I would make sure that no one was homeless
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? To be rich! Joseph, 11
If you could change one thing about your area what would it be? People have to understand how to recycle more.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be? I would make everyone equal. No Kings or Queens. They are just normal people like everyone else born into money.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? Nothing. Saul, 11
If you could change one thing about your area what would it be? The people that ride their motorbikes around the woods, because they are messing up the place
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be? I would get rid of all the racist people.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? I wouldn’t change anything about myself Shay, 11
If you could change one thing about your area? I want the place to have less litter. Also I want young people to stop smoking. There are year 9’s that smoke and they have asthma.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be? Peace, because there is not enough of it.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? My strength, so I could deal with anyone that messes with me.
IS IT OK TO
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Students attending Islington Arts and Media Secondary School feel that sexual bullying isn’t really looked into. A majority of young people get sexually bullied and don’t know about it.
A 15-year-old female student believes that it’s a young person’s right to know what is wrong and what is right: “I think a lot of people get sexually bullied at school and do not know it. It could be touching the bum, and for some people that might be alright, but sometimes it’s over the top.” People should have the confidence to say no and be able to draw the line on what they feel is ok, and when it becomes sexual bullying. Head of Humanities Mr Urtone said: “Sexual harassment can happen at most secondary schools all over the country. I define it as any sexual activity that is physical or verbal that is unwanted.
“Sometimes you go around the school and hear young boys talking about, or directly to girls in a derogatory manner and I would say that that is a low level of sexual bullying.
“Young people are going through puberty and have a lot of hormones flying around, some trying to impress their friends with their actions. The victims might not have the life skills to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want to be touched in that way.’”
A 15-year-old female pupil added: “Maybe it happens because their parents haven’t taught them to respect the opposite sex, or it’s because it’s easy to access porn on the internet and this makes young people think that what they are seeing is normal.”
Students have expressed the need for more sexual health education to be part of the school curriculum. They feel that they need the lessons to give them a better understanding of what sexual bullying is and how it could be prevented.
An ex-year 11 male student says that they haven’t had enough sexual health education since they’ve been at school.
Lead Learning Mentor Lynette Brown thinks that education is the key: “We need to make everyone aware. If we make as many young people aware of all the things
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that are out there then it’s a start.” Teacher, Mr Brown said : “Sometimes young people act in a certain way and think that they are just messing around. But if they were out on the street or the work place they would get arrested for it and I think it has to be made clear what the boundaries are.”
“Maybe we can have them in assemblies. But I was teaching a sexual health lesson for year 7s about puberty, and it can be very embarrassing for the students and the teacher. And to do that in front of 180 children! It begs the question, are the teachers qualified to teach these kinds of lessons?”
“PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) lessons are important because it gives young people life skills that they need to make good decisions. Life is not just about academia and typing on keyboards, some of it is how you interact and deal with problems that arise and unfortunately I think that not all young people are equipped to make those right decisions. But schools are not able to give enough time to these lessons.
If this issue is highlighted more we might know how to deal with it and have the confidence to say stop.
The school does run lessons on sexual health and relationships, however the school can only fit four of those lessons a year, and Mr Urtone believes it is probably not enough.
“I don’t think it’s an issue of money. I think it’s a time thing and the school has too much academic pressure and its main responsibility is to get young people good grades and a good education.
So sexual bullying still seems to be left in the shadows. Without education we don’t know if people are suffering from it and sometimes they might not even know that what is happening to them is sexual bullying.
In class we learn that a child is born innocent and their primary and secondary surroundings influence them. School is one of those surroundings and that means they need to influence us in the right way. This article was produced by Renais Mejeh, 15, Aderayo Adealy, 12, Ylyn Crowstaff, 11, Kevin Struett, 12, Aisha Ajona, 15, Ada Ismaili, 15 and Miranda Williams, 15.
LOUD ‘N’ CLEAR
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Got It e
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From the outside looking in on British society and young people, it can be easy to see how other nations might think that Brits have it easy. Free meals at school, free travel around town, running water at home, free health and education, compared to areas in Africa where you have to walk to the local well to get water, pay for an education and in some cases run for your life from war.
“The NHS is a benchmark of society in the UK. Everyone can use it if they need it. If you’re sick you call 999 and an ambulance comes and picks you up. But in Africa if you are sick, you have to go to your neighbour, borrow their car, and drive to the hospital. I think British young people don’t understand how lucky they are to have these things as a backup.” Said Gloire, 20, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Lynnette, 16, originally from Zimbabwe said:” Look at teenage pregnancies in the UK. A girl gets pregnant here and she will get support from the government. You don’t get that kind of support in Africa, so the young people there are more aware of the consequences which will result in dropping out of school.
“You can look at it in two ways. It’s good that the British government will support you when you need it, but it also makes you complacent. In Africa
it’s a good thing that the government doesn’t reach out to people, it makes them more responsible.”
Gloire adds: “The education system in the UK is good. But the young people don’t take the advantages they have.” A 55 year old mother of two has a slightly different view on the reason why a large amount of young people in the UK are not utilising their school days: “The classrooms are packed with 35 or more children and the teachers can’t cope. This results in the children not getting the necessary one to one attention they need, so quite a few get
overlooked. The parents are also busy working to support them financially, and don’t have the time to speak to their children about school and go to the schools to see what’s going on.”
Discipline in the classroom seems to have two different meanings in Africa and Britain. A fear of the cane for misbehaving and poor work breeds respect and discipline in Africa, while in the UK, children’s human rights are giving them power without the responsibility. Paulette, 21, said: “Kids know that parents aren’t allowed to hit them by law and this gives them the power to
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Jane, 43, said: “We shouldn’t go back to teachers being able to hit children who missbehave, however there has to be more support in how teachers can enforce the discipline they have. At the moment a teacher can try to discipline a child but only for the parent to contradict them and say I don’t want you to punish my child. This makes it tough for the teacher to have any respect in the classroom.”
Research by Population Action International places the UK at 112th in the league tables of Europe for teen parents. Thomas, 40, an Irish man living in the UK for the past 20 years said: “If you have a kid at 14, 15, your life is ruined. Life is going to be hard, they are going to find it hard to get job and find someone to look after your kid. They do need support from the government. I speak from experience; my baby’s mother was 15 when we first had our first child. It sort of ruined her life. “I don’t think kids have it easy these days, they have nothing to do and that’s why you get gangs, stabbings, shootings and girls falling pregnant.”
David, 16 thinks that all teenagers are naturally risk takers and this is why self
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push the limits. When I was young a smack didn’t do me any harm and it kept me in line.”
discipline slips. “Teenagers will just go out and cause trouble to see how far they can go. We are by nature risk takers.” And Kymberley, 13, agrees. “It’s the thrill and the rush of doing something bad.”
So high teen pregnancy rates, gang culture on the rise and unruly classrooms. Is the ‘easy life’ the cause of this decline?
“I think it depends on what your definition of ‘easy’ is. I think compared to other countries on economic terms,
UK kids have it easier.” Said Jane, 43, who works with young people: “But I would also say that in terms of how complicated their lives are they have it a bit harder.” Lynnette has been living in the UK for two years now and her view is starting to soften: “Living in a different environment makes you a different person. African kids have a view that British kids are all spoilt and disrespectful and have a stereotyped view. But that view might not be totally untrue. But when you come to a new country as a young person you notice all the bad things first. The good stuff grows on you.”
This article has been produced by Kymberley Apiro-Eloket, 13, Michael Wilson, 14, Akram Bwanika, 16, David O’mara, 16, Lynnette Musuuga, 16 and Gloire Anmany, 20.
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In London’s school playgrounds where teenagers smoke whilst discussing the latest gossip a few pupils wander around saying just loud enough to hear , “Kit Kat, Mars bars, chocolates,” like fruit and veg traders of the Holloway Market. The black market has officially entered the playgrounds of our secondary schools.
Most schools are starting to try and be part of the healthy schools initiative by taking out tuck shops, vending machines and getting rid of unhealthy food. It seems that the entrepreneur school kid is seeing a gap.
The customers already know the price, 50p for a traditional mainstream chocolate bar and crisps, 20 to 30p for little chocolate bar. The pupils have become accustomed to it, bypassing shops saying “Nah, I’ll buy it at school”, as school ‘shotters’ – a term usually used for drug dealers but in this respect the black market sellers - sell most of their stock cheaper than shops because they buy multi-packs. £100 profit after a week is not unheard of.
However, this trade is ultimately against the law. Islington school Mount Carmel RC Technology College’s Vice Principal Miss Haynes said: “If you are a business then you have to register yourself as a business and you have to be paying tax to the Inland Revenue, and I know that people are buying goods, selling them and pocketing the profits and they are doing that on school grounds and basically that is not fair.”
If only these pupils sold so that they could afford to buy school books or contribute to utility bill at home. Miss Haynes said: “The other side of why young people are selling products is because some of them are living in what you could say is poverty and financial hardship, and those people are using that money to support themselves
so they can have a social life, pay for a mobile phone or whatever.
"There are some pupils that don’t have well off parents and so are supporting their pocket money through selling within the school. Now being a Business Studies teacher, I do support enterprise in the school however, I see that any money raised should be going onto a charity or going someway to activities in the school and not going towards personal gain.”
In the playgrounds around London pupils see the easy pound signs and start at an early age, and all the information and tips about selling in the playground can be easily found on websites. A Year 11 pupil said: “I started selling in Year 8 because it was easy money, and I continued selling because it helped to pay for my social life.
A Year 7 student at Mount Carmel said: “I find it very helpful when my fellow students sell in school because it saves me energy and time from going to the shop and it also helps get to school on time more often because I don’t have to go to the shop.”
Neisha, 17, believes it’s harmless: “I don’t have a problem with selling in schools. It’s an easy way of making money, but you don’t see it when you get to sixth form college maybe it’s the extra freedom you get?” But there are victims from the fall out of the black market. Mt Carmel’s Vice Principle Miss Haynes said: “Bullying is going on where younger students in year 7 and 8 are being forced to purchase goods by older students and sometimes they are being made to pay more than if they went to a shop.”
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One way to stop all of this would be to reintroduce tuck shops in schools, perhaps form part of the GCSE Business Studies course around it, however schools also have a commitment to young people’s health and future. Miss Haynes said: “Now as a school we are not going to change because we have a responsibility not only to educate our students but to help you become healthy and confident in the future and part of that is by educating you to eat healthier. If you eat healthier you are going to live longer and that is the responsibility of the school. “We need to have some consultations and see if we can come to a compromises of what we could provide for young people which would prevent them wanting to eat chocolate and sweets and selling those things.”
Sweets, fizzy drinks and chocolates affects concentration, focus and also impacts on long term health such as tooth decay, obesity, diabetes and even skin conditions. Miss Haynes latest strategy in the war against playground black market was to post a paragraph in the school newsletter warning students about the consequences should they be caught selling. As of today they still carry on regardless, as they itch to feel the jingle of shiny coins in their pockets.
This article was produced by Milen Rosum, 12 and Rahel Aklilu, 13.
Catapulted to Maturity
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Young people all over the country take for granted sitting in front of the TV, staying out late, hanging around with their friends and generally being a kid. But out there, there are thousands that have been catapulted into maturity and responsibility by caring for someone with a physical or learning disability, illness or substance dependency at home. And there may be many more that we don’t yet know about. Just who are young carers? What brings tears and smiles to their lives and where is the support? There are over 175,000 young carers in the UK. “It’s rewarding because you’re helping someone you love but it is also hard as I have exams coming up and. I just need a bit of my own space.”
Efia, 15, looks after her autistic sister. “I help her get up in the mornings,
and I look after her when she’s a bit lonely in the house, because she likes to wander about the place. I have to get her food ready when she comes back from school. Basically I just need to be there for her. I also care for my mum as she has depression, so I’m caring for her by caring for my sister and helping out like that.” Phoebe, 18, looks after her mother. “It can be really stressful and lonely. You don’t get a chance to have a proper teenage life because you are always thinking about your caring responsibilities and you get stressed and then you can’t do your course work or homework from college and that stresses you even more. But on the other hand it can be quite rewarding because you are looking after a family member, and you don’t have to be asked to do that.” These two young people are the lucky ones as they have found support through an organisation
called Family Action. Many children and young people are falling through the net, and struggling.
A teacher from Knutsford High School, Cheshire said: “I had a young carer in my form for 3 years, and I never knew he was one, I’m supposed to know all about him and I didn’t have a clue. Once we did find out we tried to help him out but I think after 3 years of struggling in school because he had so much to do at home, it was a bit too late. He missed out on the education he should have had.” But why do some young carers keep their situation to themselves? Is it a question of young carers not wanting to speak up for fear of being bullied for being different? Or is it the fact that for the young people who looks after someone at home, that is the real world for them and it is just normal daily life? They don’t actually
“I don’t find it hard being a young carer, but I have to admit I only found out that I am one when you told me what one was. I just feel like a normal child, but caring for somebody else.” Kane, 12, looks after his disabled mother. We met him while out on the street, asking what people thought about young carers Just after we spoke to Kane, we spoke to a youth worker. “I think young carers play a massive role. They are the ones that hold things together. “I think it can be a secret thing. The young people I have worked with are sometimes embarrassed; they don’t want their friends to know that their mum or dad is dependent on them. “The young carers I have met have found it hard.
“I understand that this is not the case for all young carers. I’m glad that you guys love it. It’s a positive thing for you and you love the person you look after, and that’s amazing. But some of the young people I have worked with are drained. “Maybe that is a reflection on the person you are looking after, ...they have made you the person you are. They give out that energy. But if the person you care for wasn’t the person they are and you didn’t have the strength ...then the circumstances might have been different, tougher and stressful.”
Some people think that young carers are undervalued, under helped, lonely, and underappreciated. Not by the family at home but the outside world. That it can be hard enough being young as it is, struggling with school and growing up, but on top of that having to care for someone at home. However, young carers just carry on and take it
in their stride, and having a support mechanism can really help.
Efia, 15, said: It’s rewarding because you’re helping someone you love, but it is hard as I have exams coming up and I just need a bit of my own space. So young carer groups, like Family Action help, as it gives me a bit of respite. But that sometimes makes me feel guilty as I’ve left my mum to look after my sister on her own, and I don’t know what she is up to, you know, if I was there then I could help her.” Hamza, 15, looks after his mother with a heart problem. “It is rewarding and I know I’m doing something good. I care for my mum and I enjoy it because it’s my mum. She has given so much for me and now I’m helping her out. It can be frustrating, tough and restricting at times, but Family Action helps loads, and it’s good to come together with other young carers that know what it’s like to be one.”
Joan Murray is also impressed with Family Action. Joan has a balance problem and finds it hard to walk. She is looked after by her daughter Abigail. “I think it’s important that Abigail gets to spend time with other young carers and get support from them. They are all caring people after all, so will care for one another.” This article was produced by Abigail Murray, 15, Phoebe Necel, 18, Efia Boateng-Sarpong, 15, Fatmata Cole, 12, Laroz Aziz, 10, Georgia Irwin-Ryan, 11, Leith Mohammed,16, Hamza Amir, 15 Part of Family Action Young Carers Group www.family-action.org.uk
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consider, or know that they are a young carer?
Laroz Aziz I take care of my Mum. I help her by doing the cleaning, help her with cooking. I help her a lot because she has a painful back and health problems. I help her everyday and every week. She finds it very helpful and useful. She doesn’t force me to do it. I do it myself. I am 10 years old and my name is Laroz Aziz
Private Places in Islington Äó=bãÉê~äÇ=dêáãëÜ~ïI=~ÖÉ=NN
It has been debated whether there is nature in Islington. Some say there are few trees and nature-free parks. However, others argue that we are simply looking in all the wrong places. Here is my argument stating that there is nature in our community!
Places like the River Walk, for instance, are full of trees. Although the river is slightly green, it is green from natural causes. I have been on a wildlife walk in the summer and was amazed at the number of interesting creatures down the River Walk, including frogs, ducks and even a heron!
Here are some of my own childhood memories of the River Walk.
A spindly willow hung over the Rock Den along the River Walk, partially hiding the alcove from view. The run along the River Walk was always worthwhile, with the imaginary adventure awaiting us. We used to clamber up the rocks like cave people, using the table-like surfaces to grind our herbs and meats or drink from dainty china cups on flat damp stones, as the rich did in the Victorian era. Each visit brought us to a different world, with a new home waiting to be explored. Moreover, there are massive trees at regular intervals down many roads. Even at night I am aware of nature in Islington:
A road lit up by street lamps can be seen out my window. Golden light floods the empty tarmac. Out the corner of the window the glittering moon hangs like an orb. An oak tree leaps up high, swaying slightly in the sighing breeze. The steady chopping of an axe fills the night air, as my dad prepares the firewood for tonight's crackling fire! As well as the private places of Islington locked up inside me, I share the public places with the rest of the community, as I hope you do too. Everyone in Islington has a space for a private place of our borough in their heart.
You just have to look in the right places to find nature. Exploring children may come across beauty in secret alcoves, but anyone with imagination can discover the hidden beauties of Islington!
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What issues are affecting young people that go to school in Islington? Bullying and name calling. Knife crime, bullying...hurting old ladies. Gun and knife crime.
What are the good things about the area? It’s got nice parks Playing with my friends...they all live near by. What can be improved in the area? There could be more places to lock your bikes up. Make the schools better and do more anti-bullying stuff.
What are the good things about the area? It’s clean, people are friendly and there are loads of shops around. What are the bad things about Islington? I don’t think there are enough bins around. What can improve the area? More bins and getting chewing gum off the pavements. What needs to change in the next 5 years of Islington More bus routes in the area and more free bikes so people can get around more easily. Do you see yourself living in the area in the future? I don’t think so, I think I will move out of the city and be in the countryside.
What issues are affecting young people in Islington? Bullying, is affecting a lot of kids in schools. What are the good things about the area? There are nice places to go to. Museums and parks. What are the bad things? I don’t actually know. What can improve the area? Don’t know. What needs to change in the next 5 years? Free bus travel. Do you see yourself living in the area in the future? No I don’t. I think there are going to be changes happening, and negative things, so I don’t think I will live around here.
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