Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Why Youth Is Scared for Safety

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Why Youth Is Scared for Safety

Article excerpt

Byline: ALAN LANDER

WHICH sector of the Coast community puts personal safety at the top of its concerns?

The elderly? A reasonable assumption, but wrong.

It is young people.

And it is not just about safety in pubs or on the streets or in the schoolyards - it is also about cyber-safety.

According to Claire Gardner, who works with Sunshine Coast Youth Partnership, which organised Friday's 2009 Youth Summit, cyber-bullying has added to fears in the past few years, bringing it to the point of epidemic.

The 22-year-old, who is young enough to tap into the teen world, has lived on the Coast all her life and has acute insights into the sociology of our region as seen through young eyes.

She has also been part of SCYP's current evaluation of significant youth issues.

"We surveyed 150 people from schools, TAFE, university, flexi-schools and young people in shelters," she said.

Importantly, the spread of youths who came to Friday's summit at Mooloolaba TAFE was more diverse than the "school captains" and prefects who would often make up the numbers.

"We were able to get a more diverse response from a range of young people this year," Ms Gardner said.

As with last year at the first summit, binge drinking rated highly, but the big issue was personal safety.

The summit brought young people together but asked them to come up with solutions, in workshops, to the issues identified.

"The conversations we had identified bullying and violence, whether close to home or through people you know or in public or in cyberspace," Ms Gardner said.

"Bullying is traditional in schools but with technology, a lot of the girls are being bullied. And (unlike school) you can't escape it when you go home.

"It's now 24/7 with the internet and mobile phones. You really feel disempowered. It takes your sense of personal control away."

Cassie Robertson has experienced this and other effects, but fortunately for her she sees such experiences as qualifications for her desire to work with young people. …

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