Queen’s publishes research on media representation children and young people

Front cover of Include Youth's resource
Front cover of Include Youth's resource

NEW and unique research highlighting how children and young people in Northern Ireland are portrayed by the media was launched today by Queen's University Belfast in association with Include Youth.

The initial research report from within the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative at Queen's, shows how, from their experiences, children and young people assess the impact of negative media coverage on their lives.

Speaking at the launch event Professor Phil Scraton, School of Law, said:

"The constant emphasis on antisocial behaviour and negative reporting contributes to a climate in which young people are feared and discriminated against, over-regulated by the police and paramilitaries, and their voices and experiences rarely heard."

Calling for a children's rights approach, including workable guidelines on media coverage, Professor Scraton added:

"The research emphasises the significance of negative representation in a society in transition from conflict where paramilitary punishments of children persist."

"The report considers how negative reporting contributes to the marginalisation, exclusion and disillusionment of children and young people."

During the research children and young people provided suggestions as to how other children and young people could engage more positively with the media to challenge the negative narrative.

Sharon Whittaker, Communications Officer at Include Youth, took their advice and combined it with her own experience of supporting young people in the media to produce a resource, said:

"Very often media tell us they never hear about the good stories or that their job isn't to do the public relations for children and young people.

"This resource is aimed at helping children, young people and those that work with them to feel a little more confident about speaking in the media on issues important to them."

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the project also had the support of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, said:

"A child's rights approach must be taken to address the persistent intolerance and inappropriate negative stereotyping of our children and young people.

"This will require our leaders to think very carefully about the policies they make, and ultimately the messages they send out to children and young people about how much they are respected.

"Whilst we are all responsible for changing how we talk about our children and especially our teenagers, the media must embrace their responsibility to accurately portray the children and young people of Northern Ireland."


Media enquiries: For more information contact Sharon Whittaker, Communications Officer at Include Youth on sharon@includeyouth.org or 02890311007/ 07738412056

Notes to editors:

  • Copies of Behind the Headlines research summary can be accessed from p.scraton@qub.ac.uk or viewed online: http://www.law.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofLaw/FileStore/Filetoupload,501440,en.pdf
  • Copies of In the Headlines: advice for children, young people and those that work with them about talking to the media can be accessed from sharon@includeyouth.org or viewed online: http://includeyouth.org/mgmt/resources/iyintheheadlineswebv5-3.pdf
  • In collaboration with Include Youth, the report was launched at a full day Behind the Headlines conference, in the Great Hall at Queen's University Belfast on Friday April 24, thanks to the support of the Youth Council for Northern Ireland (YCNI).