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Comment provided to Belfast Telegraph on young people rioting

Responding to a request from the Belfast Telegraph, Include Youth's policy advocacy manager, Stewart Finn, comments on children and young people who've be drawn into rioting in recent days.

"The majority of children and young people make positive contributions to their communities on a daily basis, however we acknowledge that a small minority have been drawn into riotous and antisocial behaviour," said Stewart.

"While this behaviour has a negative impact on communities it is important to point out that these young people do not grow up in a vacuum. Children and young people watch and learn from the communities and adults around them, in this case they are the product of our dysfunctionality. Community and political tensions leave young people vulnerable and more exposed to those with more sinister or criminal intentions.

"Young people who come into conflict with the criminal justice system are more likely to have been failed by the education system, be furthest from the labour market and are most isolated within their communities. Where a crime has been committed there should be consequences, however we must also look at those responsible for creating the scenarios where this kind of behaviour is 'normalised' for our children.

"The solution lies with stronger political leadership, better community representation and greater civic leadership. These young people are the peace process generation, yet one in five remain unemployed. The lack of progress by our decision-makers is manifesting itself on the streets and leading to disaffection. Like adults, all children and young people should be included in dialogue; we know they want to have a say and they want issues of their cultural identity to be given a place.

"All these efforts should do more to protect our children and young people in society, better address their needs and ultimately keep communities safe."

ENDS

For more information contact Sharon Whittaker, Communications Officer at Include Youth, on 028 9031 1007 or email sharon@includeyouth.org