Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Klopp: Brewster will get all the support he needs

Jürgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool will offer Rhian Brewster ‘all the support he needs’ after the young striker this week spoke out about the racial abuse he has faced during his fledgling career.

In an interview with the Guardian published on Thursday, Brewster detailed instances where he has been targeted by fans and opponents while representing Chelsea, Liverpool and England at youth level.

Speaking in his pre-Leicester press conference on Friday, when asked about Brewster’s comments, Klopp said:

“He will get all the support he needs and wants and we can give.

“I’m really long in this sport and I’ve never faced a situation like that but obviously it happens all the time.

“I’m really happy that he is brave enough to do what he did. It’s such an important thing – I can’t believe people still have these thoughts in their minds.

“Obviously, we needed a 17-year-old boy to shout out, to say, ‘it’s still happening and it happens all the time – I need help, we need help and we have to stop that’.

“It’s not a situation that you want a 17-year-old boy (to be) in but, if it is like this, then he needs help and we will give it to him, of course.”

UK teenagers’ hopes and fears

Teenagers - Generation K

A brilliant article in The Guardian by five teenagers on the challenges they face, and the good parts of belonging to ‘Generation K’:

Jodie wrote:

Growing up through the financial crisis, I do worry about whether I’ll have a job or a house when I’m 25, or be able to have a family, but I also feel I’m a bit too young to think about it at the moment. But other things worry me. I’m too scared to go abroad – watching the news and seeing stuff like terrorism and the rise of Isis, it does scare me.

I don’t think politicians know what our lives are like, or how the changes they make affect young people in the real world. Young people are unfairly treated by lots of policies – for instance, you’re only allowed working tax credits from the age of 25, even though lots of young people earn very little. There are young people who work but really get nothing for working.

Isaac wrote:

There is definitely pressure at school. I’ve got mock exams starting soon, and school piles on the pressure to do well. That makes you feel nervous. Things like university fees worry me a lot because I don’t know whether I will be able to afford to go, even though I really want to.

It’s a fascinating insight into the life of teenagers.

Debt, unemployment and property prices have combined to stop millennials taking their share of western wealth

Debt, unemployment and property prices have combined to stop millennials taking their share of western wealth

The Guardian have published some interesting data that shows that young adults face a huge economic challenge:

A combination of debt, joblessness, globalisation, demographics and rising house prices is depressing the incomes and prospects of millions of young people across the developed world, resulting in unprecedented inequality between generations.

A Guardian investigation into the prospects of millennials – those born between 1980 and the mid-90s, and often otherwise known as Generation Y – has found they are increasingly being cut out of the wealth generated in western societies.

Where 30 years ago young adults used to earn more than national averages, now in many countries they have slumped to earning as much as 20% below their average compatriot. Pensioners by comparison have seen income soar.

Interactive Map of James Bond’s Travel Destinations

James Bond journeys

Agent 007 has travel all over the world while working for the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service. The latest film, Spectre, takes James Bond to Austria, Italy, and Morocco. These may be great journeys for us, but for Bond, it’s just another day at the office.

The Guardian offers an interactive map that shows where James Bond has traveled over the course of his 23 movies. It does not include space, where Bond spent some time in Moonraker. And, of course, it does not include any of his travels that remain classified.

Exams are ruining teenagers’ lives

Exam pupils 1

Emma Jacobs is studying for her A-levels. She is an aspiring journalist and occasional slam poet. She blogs here and tweets @ESophieJ.  Yesterday she wrote a fantastic article on how exams are ruining teenagers’ lives:

Spring is the start of a period of intense pressure for 16-year-olds taking GCSEs. Schools push their more academic pupils in order to score well in league tables. At my comprehensive school, many peers took more than 10 GCSE subjects in one summer. Some had been encouraged to take exams a year early and were then enrolled on AS-levels alongside the GCSEs.

The school day, with travel, can easily stretch from 7.30am until 5pm, and then extra work starts as soon as you get home. A 14-hour day is not unusual in the run-up to exams. There is little or no time for exercise or fresh air. Levels of stress, clinical depression and anxiety are high, and up to one fifth of my contemporaries are said to be self-harming. Eating disorders remain a distressing problem and increasingly sufferers include young men. Some schools recognise the high levels of anxiety by having strategies like “time out” for those who cannot get through an exam without a panic attack, but I see little evidence of strategies being put in place to mitigate the stress before it becomes clinically debilitating.

Not only do exams put a strain on young people’s mental health, their physical health also suffers. For A-level students all-nighters are standard and many then survive a full day of school on caffeine alone. Within my friendship group, on any given night one person is awake texting about how they’re up during the early hours finishing an essay or cramming for a test. Arguably the texting and distractions we have on our phones are part of the problem, but they are part of our world and it’s not as easy as adults think to just turn them off (I notice that adults who advise turning off extraneous screens are often rather wedded to their own devices).

After over ten years of full-time youth work I have never seen young people (and their teachers) under more pressure than they currently are.  Not only does it have a profound impact on physical and mental health it also places a challenge at the door of the church as it seeks to disciple young people.

Is more coursework the solution to this problem or does this not merely keep the high levels of pressure going for a longer period of time causing even more of a problem?

Any ideas?

Let teenagers have their kicks

Over the weekend there was an interesting article in The Guardian, on Let teenagers have their kicks. They are only doing what comes naturally:

British teenagers are an increasingly responsible and sober bunch. Teen pregnancies are at an all-time low, drug-fuelled dance culture is vanishing, careers are planned from a tender age, and preparations are made for a lifetime of tuition fee loan repayments and pension contributions. Most of the evidence shows that today’s teenagers are altogether more sensible than their irresponsible, selfish parents ever were.

But where did all the fun go? What about the naive, wide-eyed collision that is supposed to happen when each teenage generation encounters an unprepared world? In other words, I worry that teenagers are becoming prematurely middle aged.

So it was the evolution of teenagers that made us human, and do all the wonderful things humans can do, and the same remains true today. Far from being an irritating transitional phase between childhood and adulthood, teenagers represent a life-stage unique to our species and absolutely essential for its success.

… All that brain restructuring means teenagers think in a completely different way from adults – a difference that can be frustrating at times, but a difference we should cherish rather than stifle. And there are some particular features of teenage thinking we must nurture if we are to thrive in the future.

One of these is creativity, something teenagers revel in. Although their thought processes may seem disordered to the adult observer, they are especially adept at comparing dissimilar concepts to create new perspectives. Indeed, many geniuses have drawn their initial inspiration from their almost gauche adolescent thoughts. For example, Einstein wondered what it would be like to ride on a light wave when he was 16 and I doubt he could have had such a crude yet brilliant thought at 60.

Also, teenagers, as we all know, tend to take risks. Parents don’t like it, and the authorities don’t like it, yet teenagers seem driven to do it all the same. Sometimes, terrible things happen as a result of teenage risk-taking, but very often they don’t. The human mind did not evolve in a world of speeding cars, sexually transmitted diseases and potent psychoactive chemicals, and it is poorly equipped to cope with them, yet risk-taking still serves an important function. To be successful in life we have to take some risks and adolescence is when we learn what can go wrong, what can go right, and what it feels like to take a risk. Creativity and risk-taking are essential for human success and prosperity. They are not only important in the arts, but are also the key to success in science, business and the development of a civilised society. If we do not encourage our teenagers to behave like – well – teenagers, then the outlook is bleak.

… Youth is not about being responsible – it is about being young and all the enticing, overwhelming, delicious things that come with it. Life has an emotional, sensual vividness to it when we’re young and this cannot be recaptured later on. Once that is gone it is gone forever and to cloud a young person’s experience of it is unforgivable. We are consigning our teenagers to an awful, bland sensibleness. And that is simply not natural.


David Bainbridge is a reproductive biologist at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and the author of Teenagers – A Natural History(Portobello)

Visualising the Bible

The Guardian newspaper has compiled this cool collection of infographs created by a team of scholars that utilise creative visuals to show larger themes throughout scripture.

Unlike traditional methods of analysing text, these Bible infographs instantly create pictures that represent larger ideas, teachings and trends in the Bible. In the image below, the grey horizontal line represents the each chapter of the Bible, with the large, colorful, arching lines showing a cross-reference to another book.

The Bible visualisation


You can go here to see the entire slideshow.

Amazon Olympics

An Amazon Cinta Larga indian

100 meter freestyle swimming in a nice, clean, piranha-free swimming pool? That’s cute, Summer Olympics! REAL men swim at the brutal Amazon Olympics, where surviving the event itself is its own reward:

Poised on the starting blocks at the Olympics, the 15 swimmers had good reason to feel apprehensive. But the cause of their nervousness was not the race itself – it was the piranhas, anacondas and crocodiles lurking in the turbid waters below. […]

The swimming events all take place in the murky waters of the Loretoyaco river, a tributary of the Amazon. Waiting for her 100m freestyle race, Lina Castro, a 20-year-old member of the Tikun indigenous community, gazed into the water and considered the hazards. “When the race is about to start I need to be calm and not think about all the things that live in the river,” she said.

Toby Muse of The Guardian reports here.

The Bible TV series to screen on Channel 5

The Bible

According to The Guardian, The Bible TV series will be shown on channel 5:

It is better known for Celebrity Big Brother and documentaries featuring very long trucks, but Channel 5 will also be home this autumn to a sweeping 10-hour epic, The Bible.

Richard Desmond’s channel announced on Monday it had bought the rights to the show made by Mark Burnett, previously better known for shows such as reality hit Survivor and The Voice.

A big-budget glossy epic, The Bible was a surprise ratings hit in the US this Easter with more than 13 million viewers on The History Channel, one of its biggest-ever shows.

Producers claimed during the making of the show that it had been struck by mysterious omens which indicated the “hand of God”, including a sudden swarm of snakes.

It remains to be seen whether it works any ratings miracles for Channel 5.

The Bible, which stars Diogo Morgado as Jesus, devotes five hours to the Old Testament, and five hours to the New, with a mix of live action and computer generated imagery. It is billed as a production that “tries to stay true to the spirit of the book”.

For those who have already seen it, is it worth watching?

11 year old fakes being kidnapped to avoid parents evening!

11 year old fakes being kidnapped to avoid parents evening!

A boy in Spain was dreading a planned parents evening.  He had not done well in school, so he anticipated a bad meeting. Fortunately, he came up with a brilliant solution:

Early on Monday afternoon the unnamed 11-year-old son of a Spanish police officer stationed in the north-western town of Xinzo de Limia sent a text message from his mobile phone to tell his father he had been kidnapped.

When his father phoned back, the boy confirmed the worst. He had been snatched off the street as he was putting out the rubbish, he said, and was locked in the boot of a car. He had no idea where his kidnappers were taking him, but knew that the car he was in was a blue Seat. […]

It was only two hours later that the boy’s father noticed the keys to a spare flat owned by the family were missing.

The child was soon discovered there and reportedly explained that he had been terrified by the prospect of his parents going to school to speak to his teachers.

Read the full story here

How to survive being 13 by a 14 year old

Be careful what pictures you put on Facebook …

A Netmums survey suggests that 13 is the most difficult age of all.  A 14-year-old has written a fantastic piece in The Guardian explaining how to get through it, well worth a read:

According to a Netmums survey, 13 is the most difficult age. But it’s not only parents who find it hard going – it’s tough for the teenagers too. Here’s how to make it through to being 14, by Miranda Smith, aged 14 and four months.

1. Don’t put up pictures of yourself on Facebook with a bottle of WKD beside you and a comment like: “Got SO drunk last night.” No one thinks it’s cool – and WKD is only 4% proof.

2. You’re going to feel a whole lot more grumpy when you’re 13 than you did at 12. But the thing is it’s not just you – every other 13-year-old feels exactly the same. Knowing that helps a bit.

3. It’s tempting, but try not to be on your phone 24/7. It really bugs your parents but, worse, it’s boring for your friends.

4. Thirteen is the age when you’re likely to start getting attention from the opposite sex. Don’t get carried away by this – there’s nothing more moist than a lovesick 13-year-old.

5. Don’t send pictures of yourself in your underwear to ANYONE – because they’ll end up being spread around, and you’ll regret it.

6. Your friends will annoy you, make you angry and get on your nerves. But don’t insult them on Twitter – 13-year-olds do that all the time. Twitter is a public forum, and if you start tweeting about your issues anyone can get involved even if it’s none of their business.

7. A few months ago, you hardly thought about your body at all. Now it’s the only thing on your mind. Of course your body matters: but the thing to think is that no one else notices it as much as you do. So try to chill about it.

8. At precisely the moment when you decide there’s no better way to spend a Saturday than staying in bed til late afternoon, your parents will become obsessed with you doing the chores for them. Rule of thumb: you can only say, “I’ll do it later,” five times. After that, just do it.

9. Thirteen-year-olds have massive fights with their friends, all the time. A year on, you won’t even remember what those fights were about – but you will remember how unhappy they made you feel.

10. Plan a really good party for when you reach 14. When the parents say they want to be around you’ll think, “OMG no,” … but it’s probably going to be best to let them stay. Agree on the conditions, and stick to your side of the bargain provided they stick to theirs.