We have International Youth Day – 12 August 2016
The theme for this year is –
The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production (1)
So before we go any further what exactly is YOUTH?
Our Concise Oxford English dictionary says the period between childhood and adult age
Childhood means below the age of puberty
Puberty means the period during which adolescents reach sexual maturity and become capable of reproduction
Adult means a person who is fully grown and developed (2)
So YOUTH means what?
According to the United Nations website the UN Secretariat uses the term Youth to mean age 15 – 24 with the understanding that member states and other entities use different definitions.
They also state that ‘YOUTH is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence.’ (3)
For statistical purposes the United Nations defines Youth as those persons between the ages of 15 – 24 years. (3)
Next – The message for 2016 from the Secretary General on the UN official website for Youth Day says ‘coming soon’.
How does this message make you feel 4 days before International Youth Day?
Are we left knowing that they know what they are doing?
Do we feel a strong claim or confirmation here?
Is there a call for Responsibility?
Next – we have a message to the world from Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO (4)
‘Young people are not only our future – they are our present.
Our planet has never been so young, with 1.8 billion young women and men.’
‘Most young people live today in least developed countries and shoulder the heaviest burden of conflicts and poverty.’
‘They are the most connected, the most outspoken and the most open-minded generation the world has ever seen.
They are powerful agents of positive change, essential to taking forward the 2030 Agenda …’
Lauren Singer’s, zero-waste lifestyle is the inspiration for this year’s celebration.
Bokova calls it ‘giving shape to a new humanism, to new forms of solidarity and citizenship to combat poverty, marginalization and despair’.
So here we have a Bulgarian politician – the first woman and first from Eastern Europe to lead the organisation.
Is it true to say that our youth today are the ‘most connected’?
If this statement is true, then please continue reading the statistics in this blog.
Could it be possible that the lack of connection is why we have such a global problem with our youth?
What does it mean when we say ‘connected’?
Connected to what?
Are we all uniting on this word ‘connection’?
Dictionary tells us it means a relationship between people and things
Is it true to say the youth of today have a true relationship with people and things?
How honest are we when we ‘celebrate’ an International Youth Day when there is clearly so much not right about our youth globally?
Is the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) making a blanket statement based on their mission ‘to build the defences of peace in the minds of men’? (5)
Why do we need to build any defences?
Why do we need to add this to the minds of men?
Why has the word peace not changed anything in our world?
How does a woman who lives in New York City be the inspiration for those in least developed countries to have zero-waste?
Are we looking at cross-cultural differences here before we jump on the bandwagon?
Are we aware of the fact that New York City life resembles very little to the youth of Africa in extreme poverty?
What exactly are we celebrating when we read the global statistics about our youth?
Next – let’s get back to looking at the theme, which tells us there is a plan for the year 2030 and it starts with Eradicating Poverty. The UN website states its number one goal is to –
End Poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Have we heard that one before?
Why is it now the top goal in 2016 and not before?
They also say Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge. (6)
Is it at this point we should be asking WHY is Eradicating Poverty the greatest global challenge?
With all the intelligence we have in this world, why have we not worked out this ‘challenge’?
Why have all our efforts into projects, campaigns, raising money and all the other charitable work not ended world poverty?
Do you remember Band Aid in 1984?
Why does Ethiopia have poverty today if Band Aid alone gave £150 million? (7)
Why is it that a ‘band aid’ approach has clearly not worked?
Why after 32 years of free singing are our top artists not making any real difference?
Next – I had my own charity and what was interesting is how easy it was to open a bank account and get over there on national radio and present at Zambia University. Nobody bothered to check me out to see if I was the real deal.
The thing that stuck out was a visit to the ghetto and at the entrance was a giant Coca Cola machine, the size of a house. This high sugar drink was cheaper than buying water.
Raising money and sending it over, no matter how much was never enough. Four years after closing down the charity I continued to receive ‘begging’ letters for more money. The truth was we were under the illusion the money would go towards education but that was not on the agenda.
Corruption is a mild word to use and the level of drug and alcohol abuse continued and our money was feeding that so we put a stop to our charity. On reflection I was in it simply to seek recognition and identification for being ‘good’. It did not work and it made no difference to eradicating poverty.
14 years later the servant I met wrote to me and he is still a servant living in extreme poverty.
Now back to the official stuff – dig deeper and you will find that in 1992 Agenda 21, Chapter 3 describes poverty as –
“a complex multidimensional problem with origins in both the national and international domains.”
The Agenda also states that ‘no uniform solution can be found for global application and identifies country-specific programmes to tackle poverty and international efforts supporting national efforts, as well as the parallel process of creating a supportive international environment as crucial tools for a solution to this problem.’ (6)
We then have the Copenhagen Declaration, which was adopted at the end of the World Summit for Social Development in 1995. So the largest gathering of world leaders at that time got together and ‘pledged to make the conquest of poverty, the goal of full employment and the fostering of stable, safe and just societies overriding objectives of development.’
‘Chapter 2 is entirely devoted to eradication of poverty with particular attention to the strategies being adopted to ‘achieve’ concrete results in this matter, to improve access to productive resources and infrastructure, meet the basic human needs of all and to enhance social protection and reduce vulnerability.’
Then the Geneva World Summit in 2000 was re-affirming the Copenhagen Declaration. (6)
In 2007, we have the second UN decade declared by the General Assembly for the Eradication of Poverty 2008-2017. (6)
Just in case you have not noticed we are fast approaching 2017 and so we have the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which ‘resolves to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and to heal and secure our planet.’ (6)
The UN website also states that ‘in spite of all the remarkable gains, inequalities have persisted and progress has been uneven.’ So the 2030 Agenda is “to build upon the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and seek to address their unfinished business”.
Question 1 – WHY is inequality allowed to continue?
Why are we not stopping at this and finding a true way to address this?
Question 2 – WHY is there ‘unfinished business’?
Why are we not calling to account those who are responsible for this?
Why has this been going on for the past 24 years?
Why have we not united on this and made it our business?
Why are we allowing poverty to continue today?
Does it start with each of us as individuals?
Can we feel a division inside us?
Are we feeling separated from others in our world?
Have we bothered to stop and feel if we have an inequality issue?
Are we aware that the world does have enough money to eradicate poverty?
Check the richest people in the world who are worth approx. $6.5 trillion.
That is $6,500,000,000,000,000 (8)
Why is it ok to have more money that you could ever possibly spend, yet not have a hand in eradicating world poverty?
Why is Mr. Zuckerberg not using his social media empire to educate humanity on the harmful effects of cyber abuse which is not only directed at our youth?
Why are our millionaires wanting to become billionaires?
Why are we not using the digital technology available to us to express our truth about youth?
Are we really bothered about world poverty?
Do we care when we have all the modcons in our comfortable life?
Do we feel we are doing our bit by handing over a few items to the goodwill shop?
Do we think giving a few bucks each month will end world poverty?
WHY is it a ‘complex multi-dimensional problem’?
Have our world leaders made global poverty complex?
How truly connected are our world leaders to humanity?
Are we busy blaming because we think we have no power to make changes?
What exactly has changed since Agenda 21 in 1992?
How have we evolved from the world poverty issue?
Have we truly made any progress?
Are we just buying time here as we are now talking about 2030?
Is poverty our only greatest global challenge?
Has anyone looked in detail at the other global challenges relating to our youth?
Who were the leaders in the Millennium World Summit making the ‘development goals’?
Why are we at the end of the Second UN Decade with no evidence of real change?
Why do we have poverty today in the 21st century?
Why are basic human needs for many in our world today not available?
Why do we call ourselves the most intelligent species when we still have poverty?
Why have we not eradicated poverty with our so called human intelligence?
Why do we champion our progress with Mars when our own planet needs help?
Are our global leaders doing enough or do they have other agendas?
Where is our RESPONSIBILITY in all of this as individuals?
Why have we all ignored this poverty problem that has been around since day dot?
Our world that we live in has fellow brothers who do not have their basic needs met.
Does blaming anyone actually work?
Have our charities in any form really worked to ‘eradicate poverty’?
If not, why not?
Has our doing good behaviour made any world changes?
Is being benevolent the real answer for real change?
Are our monthly donations to charities truly making a difference?
Could it be possible that we know we have a better life and so we feel ‘good’ giving something?
Could it be possible we are willing to give something as long as the world knows?
Could it be possible that we want to be identified for being kind and generous?
Could it be possible we need the recognition so that we are identified with being a ‘good’ person?
Could it be possible that deep down we KNOW that this inequality is wrong?
Could it be possible that we think giving a bit of what we have is the answer?
Could it be possible that world poverty is not in our community so it does not matter?
Could it be possible that we pay our monthly donation but have no clue where it ends up?
NEXT – we are still on the 2015 World Youth Day theme Achieving Sustainable Consumption.
So what on earth does that mean to you and me?
UN website states that – sustainable consumption entails the use of products and services that meet the basic needs of communities while safeguarding the needs of future generations.
The development and promotion of individual choices and actions that increase the eco-efficiency of consumption of all and minimise waste and pollution is critical to achieving equitable socioeconomic development. (9)
To keep it simple they want to help people make choices that fit the picture of what the ideals are here. That way they can ‘sustain’ the basic needs for future generations and at the same time increase the efficiency, so all benefit including our planet.
So we all need to be asking – Is this a real life approach and will it actually work?
Can we get people to consistently make choices that are responsible?
Is consistency the key if we are to achieve anything sustainable?
Could it be possible that this is a great idea on paper but if we apply it to a nation with poverty, it may not give us the results we want?
In 1995 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth setting a policy framework and guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people. (10)
The following are the 15 Priority Areas adopted by the General Assembly:
Where are we after 21 years?
Has our list of priorities changed in two decades?
What are our youth up to these days?
Here are some statistics –
On that note, check out this video about Stuart Kelly who talks about his brother being killed by someone who was intoxicated. Thomas Kelly and his murderer were both 18 years old.
On 25 July 2016, Stuart Kelly took his own life following the cyber abuse and in person bullying – because he was in support of New South Wales, Australia’s Lock Out Law.
The law includes restrictions on the times that establishments can sell alcohol. (15)
Having read all 80 points from the Judge at the Supreme Court of New South Wales about the 18 year old offender, the following gives you a brief insight (16) –
3. ‘… offending consists of five unprovoked attacks carried out randomly on unsuspecting strangers by an intoxicated young offender. One of those attacks has had the most serious consequences. The offences taken together, as the Crown submits, constitute an overall episode “of alcohol fuelled violence” (23.44T), occurring over about one hour.’
6. ‘I could not help noticing that when the statements were read in court many of the large number present were moved to tears by the accounts given. I also noticed that this included persons I took to be in court to support the offender, including his mother. The offender himself wept …’
21. ‘Aftermath of the offending
The following day the offender was watching television with some of his associates when a news story was broadcast about Thomas Kelly’s critical condition. The offender became quiet and looked worried. The offender said “Was that one of my fights, I don’t know” …’
31. The offender’s father was involved in criminal activities and his mother had separated from the father at the time of the offender’s birth. The offender’s father was in jail during the offender’s infancy. His father abused drink and drugs. On one occasion during the offender’s childhood, his father struck him across the face with a bamboo cane as punishment for a trivial misdemeanour.
32. ‘The offender grew up in his mother’s care and without the benefit of love, support and guidance from his father … He formed a close relationship with his football coach, and I infer from his mother’s statement, that man may have been something of a father figure to the offender. Unfortunately he died of cancer, which the offender’s mother states was very confronting for the offender.’
41. ‘… there is material before me which satisfies me that he is remorseful for his offending and particularly for taking the life of Thomas Kelly.’
45. ‘As I have already pointed out the offender wept in court when Mr and Mrs Kelly read their Victim Impact Statements, which I took as a sincere expression of his remorse.’
Why are our youth using alcohol, which is a mind-altering substance?
Why do young people become aggressive drinking alcohol?
What was going on for the offender that he needed to intoxicate himself?
Why was this inebriated teenager attacking 4 other people on the same night?
Why does it take a homicide case before this teenager is stopped?
Why is police caution for alcohol abuse with our youth clearly not working?
Why are we not addressing the root cause of why our youth need alcohol?
What gets inside a teenager where he can kill another with one single punch?
Reading all the facts presented at Supreme Court, it is clear that the offender becomes aggressive under the influence of alcohol.
His past behaviour also confirms that his victim’s face was where the he would punch.
Note – point 31 refers to his father who ‘struck him across the face’ in his childhood.
Does it take a manslaughter case to see that there could be a deep unresolved issue here?
Could it be possible that the alcohol is used as a solution to bury deep hurts?
Could it be possible that there is a correlation between attacking random victims in the face as he carries his own brutal attack at the hands of his father?
Could it be that simple?
Having first hand experience of working with prisoners inside jail, the majority of offences were alcohol or drug related. I understand and know why re-offending is at such a high rate and why rehabilitation as it stands is not working.
Why does a teenager who sets out to support Australia’s Lock Out Law end up taking his life?
Why do hate bloggers make it their mission to destroy anyone who stands up for Truth?
Why are we as bystanders not doing anything as custodians of humanity?
Why are we allowing cyber abuse to poison our internet and seriously harm others?
Why do we accept no policing of the internet?
What will it take before we wake up and realise we have a serious global issue with our Youth and Alcohol abuse.
If it had not been for the suicide of Stuart Kelly would we have even bothered to see and feel the huge effect that alcohol is having on our youth today?
At the regional Training on Adolescent Self-Harm I learnt that self-harm was cutting, burning, bruising, head banging, starvation and buying shoes 2 sizes small so they hurt when they walk.
Self-Harm UK say that they cannot cope with the amount of young people asking for help.
Are our younger generations trying to tell us something with these statistics?
Why is there no up to date current statistics?
Why are governments not making funding a priority for this type of research?
Who actually benefits in the long term if we do not know the real scale of our global youth problems?
Have we stopped to consider that the youth of today will be our adults of the future?
Looking at the above statistics how well is our world doing if our advanced western world has suicide in youth as one of the leading causes of death?
Why are our teenagers depressed and why is this the number one psychological disorder in the world?
Why is suicide so high with our youth of today?
If the government want to solve our children’s mental health crisis “it needs to acknowledge the causes” says Natasha Devon, Department of Education Mental Health Champion who was sacked from her job.
She also cites that lack of quality time, social media and cut backs in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are part of the problem we have with our youth.
Could it be possible this woman was onto something here?
Could it be possible there is some truth in her statement?
Could it be possible that speaking out makes others feel uncomfortable?
Could it be possible that she is asking us all to look at the bigger picture?
Could it be possible we need more people like Natasha Devon to speak up?
Could it be possible that if we hold back the truth of what we know and feel, we harm others?
“Everybody has the real them and the person that they present to the world. For some people the gap between the two is narrow. For some the gap is big. The space between those two people is where mental health issues arise, so the wider the gap the bigger the chance that something is going to happen.” (22)
Why is she quoting publicly the above statement that a therapist told her?
Is it making sense?
Is it possible there is some truth in this statement?
Let us put our common sense hat on for one moment and work this one out.
If we live the true real person that we are then, there would be no need, no gap and no emptiness inside of us. However, if we choose to present to the world something we are clearly not then there is a void, a hole so to speak that we seek to fill up.
The gap gets bigger as we continue living a life that is not true.
Could it be that simple?
Does this make sense?
Now keep that common sense hat on and read this statement from a UK government official.
2 August 2016
Youth age 16 selling cocaine and heroin.
Mother unaware her son was smoking cannabis from age 11.
Mother asked council to take him as she has been threatened with evictions as son smoking cannabis on communal stairs.
He confirmed that all his friends, same age are selling drugs as he heard it was “a quick way to earn money”.
Read – The Truth about Marijuana and note this boy started pot smoking at the age of 11.
This is up to date, hot off the press information. Real life evidence that has been shared in confidence about the true state of what is going on with our youth. This government official has observed this type of stuff for over a decade.
As the author of this blog, I have worked with UK service providers for Youth and the Homeless. The following has been taken from the Simple Living UK – Youth & Housing Report 2014.
Youth are –
Feeling not listened to
Smoking copious amounts of cannabis
Not working with the system
Staff feedback –
We are meant to provide all that parents would but in reality we are not.
We are frequently giving money to young people with no expectations.
Unreasonable expectations are set, then not enforced. This creates many issues.
Many young people are handed out bulk payments in cash with little intervention if they decide to spend it all on cannabis.
Observations from hostel visits –
Service providers are supporting by way of large houses and custom built apartments.
Two hostels advised me there is a daily cleaner.
Flat screen TV, leather chairs and large kitchens.
Fridge in each room and high quality bed and bedding available.
I was shown a property where the violence of one youth damaged all furniture.
The solution was to move them to another hostel, different area.
It was confirmed that this violent behaviour was repeated in other hostels.
Next – I have worked with Youth Offenders. Some have spent most of their young life inside prison and these UK statistics are well worth noting.
Why are we as a nation accepting this in anyway?
Why are we not asking more questions?
Why are we allowing this to happen to our youth on our watch?
Are we not all responsible for our youth of today and not just the parents or teachers?
Point 42, Transforming Youth Custody – Government response to the consultation
‘If young offenders are to stay on the straight and narrow after release, custody must instill in them a sense of responsibility and self-discipline but must also equip them with the skills they need to live independently.’ (24)
This is a great and valid point so what we need to ask now is WHY is youth offending rising?
Could it be possible that those who have the job to ‘instill a sense of responsibility’ may not be equipped because they themselves are not living a life of true RESPONSIBILITY?
Could it be possible that our youth of today need real role models who live a life of True Responsibility with Consistency, which then would inspire them that there is another way?
Is this where we need to see change in rehabilitation as Simple Living Global have been saying since 2011?
4 August 2016 – US citizen killed and five other people injured in a knife attack in Central London. Youth aged 19 arrested and police confirm “mental health issues” (25)
What is going on with our youth today?
Why is teenage mental health going to such extreme violence?
Why are we not addressing youth and mental health as a global priority?
Why are we just accepting this and moving on?
How much more needs to happen before we start asking some serious questions?
Are the Government cutbacks in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services working?
Can we just assume this will be a one off thing so let’s not bother?
If we do have someone like Natasha Devon speaking up, is getting rid of her the answer?
Why do we allow systems and government cutbacks to dictate the welfare of our youth?
Why do we accept whatever the government says goes?
Why are we not interviewing the police officers and getting their real take on this?
Why are we thinking for a moment this may just all go away?
Why is it that things are definitely getting worse with our youth of today?
Why are we not asking the WHY questions non-stop?
Why is campaigning clearly not working?
Why is blaming anyone or anything changing nothing?
Is the question we need to be asking – Where is our individual Responsibility?
Why are the police receiving training on how to deal with youth and mental health?
For the Record – I have attended the Mental Health Awareness Safeguarding Training at the London Metropolitan Police HQ this year.
We were told that in gang culture to ‘initiate’ you have to stab someone, carry out robberies or rape and commit violence. It is normalised that a girl has sex with all gang members, as that is her job.
The police are saying that there is now more pressure on them to recognise the signs of ‘mental health in youth’. What I heard first hand directly from police working on the streets was that there are not enough resources in mental health to deal with this fast escalating problem.
Under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, the police have the authority to provide a place of safety which can be a police station or psychiatric hospital.
There are some areas of weakness in this section, however. Police officers are often only given a day’s training in this area, and therefore find it difficult to make a judgement on a person’s well-being. Police stations are also regarded as a place of safety, but for many of those with mental health problems they can be places which leave them feeling more unstable than they were when they were first arrested. This, in consequence can make the situation worse. (26)
This is a very serious statistic and the police are simply not equipped to deal with youth mental health. Using common sense here, how can a one day training really give you the ability and insight needed to deal with mental health.
Many at the training expressed their frustration at waiting long hours for admission to a psychiatric unit, because there are not enough resources to cope with this growing demand. At times it can be two officers for a whole day. Think about the knock on effect and the cost to the public purse.
Why is this not making any sense?
Why are our police officers just left to act like security guards?
What cost is this to our country?
What are the long term effects to our society?
Who in authority is making these decisions without seeing the real life stuff that goes on?
Why are those in power not getting a reality check from those who work on the streets?
Why are we not talking to those who work in mental health directly with the youth?
Why are we not getting to the root cause of this?
Is there another way?
Could it be possible there is a simple answer?
Could it be possible that the root cause is that our Youth are not being met and connected to?
Could it be possible that our commitment to connect to and with our young is simply not there?
Could it be possible that there is no consistency in our own connection?
Could it be possible that the void we feel from our dis-connection needs to be filled and this is where the problem starts?
Could it be possible that our lack of connection to who we truly are is the root cause of all our ills in this world?
We all need to get real and start asking the WHY questions at every opportunity.
We all want our youth to have true connection so they can lead the way for future generations.
Could it be possible that each of us who make up this world have a RESPONSIBILITY to learn, foster and develop a way of living that is deeply connecting to who we truly are?
Could it be possible that taking RESPONSIBILITY for all our choices is what will allow us to evolve as a race of beings one day?
(1) (2016). International Youth Day. 12 August. United Nations
(2) Concise Oxford English Dictionary – Twelfth Edition. Oxford University Press. 2011
(3) (n.d). Definition of Youth. United Nations Youth
(4) Message from Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the Occasion of the International Youth Day. 12 August 2016. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(5) (n.d). What Is Unesco?
(6) (n.d). Poverty Eradication. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. United Nations
(8) Dolan, K.A. & Kroll, L. (2016, March 1). Forbes 2016 World’s Billionaires: Meet the Richest People on the Planet
(9) (2016). International Youth Day 2016: Youth Leading Sustainability
(10) (n.d). International Youth Day. 12 August. United Nations
(11) (April 2016). Suicide Fact Sheet. World Health Organisation
(12) Elliott, R. & Tyrell, M. (n.d). Understanding Clinical (Major) Depression Today
(13) (August 2016). Stuart Kelly’s Legacy Could Save Lives
(14) (n.d). Stats and Facts. Beyond Blue
(15) Sydney’s Alcohol Laws. New Alcohol Laws Now in Place. New South Wales Government
(16) (2013, November 25). R v Loveridge  NSWSC 1638 8 November 2013
Supreme Court of New South Wales
(17) 10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States – 2013
(18) Any Anxiety Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health
(19) Documentary: Playground – The Child Sex Trade in America
(20) Suicide Statistics Report 2015. Samaritans. (p.33)
(21) (2016). Mental Health Statistics. Young Minds
(22) Aitkenhead, D. (2016, May 13). Sacked Children’s Mental Health Tsar Natasha Devon: ‘I Was Proper Angry’
(23) (2016). Mental Health Statistics. Young Minds
(24) Transforming Youth Custody. Government Response to the Consultation. Ministry of Justice. January 2014
(25) Atkinson, E. (2016, August 4). Russell Square Stabbings Shock London http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36976343
(26) (2014). Community Mental Health & Psychiatry Level 4. UK Distance Learning & Publishing