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Young people not just heroes and hoons

Young people not just heroes and hoons says Commissioner

Young people want to be seen as individuals, and not typecast as heroes or hoons, says Children's Commissioner John Angus.

"The common thing I hear from young people around the country is that they're sick of being lumped into the same category as their peers who make the news. Young people are a hugely diverse group of New Zealanders who deserve to be treated on their individual merits."

Youth Week 2010 is an opportunity to celebrate everything that is positive about being a young person and their individuality. This year the theme is Rangatahi Ora: Whanau Ora ¬ connecting young people and their whanau/families.

The week is also looking at busting the myths about youth in New Zealand.

"That's a great theme. Almost all young people have something valuable to say and contribute - be they scholarship winners, elite teenage sports stars, young apprentices or even those who go overboard taking risks," John Angus said.

"Members of my Young People's Reference Group, who advise me on all sorts of issues that affect young people, tell me that it is sometimes difficult to get adults to see them as individuals."

One member of the group, Jayran Mansouri (17) says there needs to be a shift in society's attitude because she gets the idea that adults think young people should be controlled, punished and told off.

"I want to see society acknowledge young people as separate individuals worthy of being celebrated," she said.

Another member of the group, William Leith says celebrating the positive parts of youth culture is important in a society where bad news drives the six o'clock news.

"We're not just MTV, hoodies and poor English. Respect our culture. It's important for adults to understand this and important for youth to feel part of society," he said.

Youth Week runs from 22 ¬- 30 May. It is organised by the New Zealand Association for Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD) with the support of the Ministry of Youth Development.

Events for young people are taking place throughout the country. More information can be found at www.youthweek.co.nz <http://www.youthweek.co.nz>

The Children's Commissioner is currently recruiting for new Young People's Reference Group members. More information, including an application form, can be found at www.occ.org.nz/yprg <http://www.occ.org.nz/yprg> .


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