Young citizen’s jury
The use of public space by children and young people (children) continues to inspire debate. Passionate proponents for children have argued for their rights to access public space, yet negative depictions and discourses of their perceived misuse of public space or antisocial behaviour tend to shape how society perceives them.
A Citizen’s Jury was formed in South Australia to consider the question: ‘How can we ensure we have a vibrant and safe Adelaide nightlife?’
When it became apparent that people under 18 years-old would not be involved, the Council for the Care of Children (Council) and the Youth Affairs Council of South Australia (YACSA) decided that children had a right to be consulted in connection with their use of, and access to, public space, now and into the future.
To capture children’s thoughts, opinions and ideas, the Council and YACSA decided to run a parallel online Young Citizen’s Jury. We designed a 10-question survey and distributed it via surveymonkey.com. The survey was marketed via Twitter and Facebook and was open to primary and high school-aged children.
Children had quite a bit to say about what would make Adelaide a safer and more vibrant place to visit. Some of their opinions were similar to those expressed by the adults involved in the Citizen’s Jury, but many of their thoughts and ideas were quite different.
Children consistently highlighted the following as important in them in feeling safe in public areas:
- Increased street lighting
- More areas tailored to the needs of children and for their exclusive use
- Retail outlets being open after normal business hours
- Diversification of commercial businesses to ensure that nightlife is not centred on adult bars and clubs, and not characterised by the sale and consumption of alcohol.
Events and meeting places
- Alcohol free ‘lock-in’ style events
- More More Alcohol-free clubs for
- Greater numbers of free or inexpensive events/meeting places and venues.
- Better, safer and more frequent public transport for <18s
Safety and Security
- ‘Monitored’ areas where where Designated safe areas in public spaces that
- When comparing the reports of the Young Citizen’s Jury and the Citizen’s Jury, it was apparent that, whereas adults felt the city was already safe and vibrant, children had a different perception.
The overarching theme of the Young Citizen’s Jury survey was that children felt excluded from most entertainment and socialising options in public spaces, as most venues and events targeted adults. Children wanted more events that cater to them, their needs and the ways in which they use public space. They wanted more and safer meeting places to socialise and have fun.
The Council and YACSA provided the Young Citizen’s Jury report and recommendations to the Premier of South Australia, to be considered alongside the report and recommendations of the adult Citizen’s Jury.
Author: Magdelena Madden from the Council for the Care of Children
Photo Credit: photo by Magdelena Madden