“Dreams are disappearing” - Belgian teenager, 15 years old.
In Belgium, KIYO organised six group discussions with youth to capture their voice on empowerment. In the end, our staff reached 118 youth both from Brussels and Flanders. Interested in some headlines ?
💬 Youth are very open to discuss on empowerment topics, even if the majority doesn’t have a clear understanding of some concepts like Empowerment and Children’s rights.
💬 They get informed mostly through social media such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
💬 They are not aware that they have the right and the potential to make a difference. The notion of participation is quite difficult to apprehend. They are in favour of active citizenship, but feel like they don’t have enough skills. In fact, youth have a quite negative self-opinion about their qualities for participation: “We want to act, but we are not ready, we don't have the tools, adults can easily manipulate us”. This negative perception of themselves doesn't encourage youth to be more pro-active in their direct environment. They are mostly focused on their daily realities: difficult to go from this situation to real citizenship and global citizenship.
💬 They mention the normalisation of some deviant attitudes that violate Children rights everyday (intimidation in the street, superiority of the adult's opinion). Do we really have these rights ? Or is it just on paper ?
💬 Youth don’t feel prepared for the future. School doesn’t focus on talent development nor life skills. In this context, the young participants do not feel involved, they feel stuck in a system which is very hierarchical, more conservative than innovative. Youth want to have an economic background, get to know how to manage financial issues. In the same idea, they want to benefit from a political background to better understand the political affairs. Youth want also be trained in communication skills (debate, argumentation, public speech), strengthen their personal qualities (self-confidence, talent development, social awareness), get to know more about sexual education and citizenship education, benefit from the opportunity to learn about multiple religions.
💬 They notice a high pressure on young people (school expectations, social/group pressure). They do not always feel safe in public areas and are regularly confronted with unsocial behaviour. In their opinion, urban life includes dangerous zones and sexual intimidation of girls in the street is a real issue.
💬 Youth note the existence of stereotypes about specific groups, like the migrants, and assist some forms of daily stigmatisation. According to them, the diversity of the population is not well reflected in all the societal levels. In other words, inclusion of everyone seems to not always represents a priority. They deplore the difficulties to discuss on identity issues.
Amadeo Vandenheede, KIYO Programme Assistant