Lachlan Bruce: the bigger picture is better

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ALLAN Wells’ comments show just how poor the perception of young people in Scotland is today. I can understand why he believes young people need “a kick up the backside”. Today’s newspapers are far too full of negative stories about young people.

Fed a constant diet of obese kids, work-shy youngsters, and delinquent deadbeats, it is no wonder Allan thinks all young people need sharp action.

Of course, it’s just not the case. Young people are involved in every facet of Scottish life, from volunteering and campaigning to exercise. A 2009 survey of volunteering found a third of school-age Scots had volunteered, with another third saying they would consider it. As for the idea young Scots are just sitting around, this is far from true for the majority. Even if we exclude walking, 71 per cent of young Scots surveyed in the 2010 Scotland’s Household Survey were involved in exercise. As for campaigning, just look at the thousand young people who marched earlier this year to show their support for equal marriage.

The majority of Scotland’s young people are dedicated, conscientious, engaged and hard-working. Yet if you type “young Scots, work” into Google the first thing you read is an attack by Arnold Clark on young apprentices.

This comes at a time when things are as hard as they have ever been. The unemployment rate for young people is now 22.9 per cent. That’s over 90,000 young people looking for work. We should be looking at how we can stand up for young people, not looking for opportunities to condemn them.

One of the great things about being in the Scottish Youth Parliament is that we are able to challenge these prejudices. However, more needs to be done. We need other groups to stand up for young people as well. Instead of repeating tired assertions, we need senior figures from business, politics, culture, and indeed the sporting world, to stand up for our young people.

I know Allan wasn’t trying to attack young people, but just wanted them to be inspired. However, what would be really inspiring for young people would be to hear, just occasionally, how brilliant they really are.

• Lachlan Bruce is member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for East Lothian and convener of its committee on health and sport