Contemporary issues in youth policy

Traditionally, this field of youth policy focused on the provision of information to young people through youth information and counselling services. Young people's right to information is widely recognised in major legal and political documents at national, European and international levels, as being a necessary component of participation. However, with rise of digitalisation the number of information sources young people have access to has significantly increased and nature of those sources has changed. This has brought a number of new dimensions to the policy area, such as concern about fake news and hate speech, particularly within the online world. In this context, young people are no longer just information consumers, but also content producers and sharers, often engaged in continuous online dialogue with many others individuals from diverse backgrounds holding a wide variety of beliefs. As a result this policy area has also come to include a focus on young people's media literacy, as well as intercultural dialogue and the prevention of hate speech.

The primary concern of youth information and counselling is to respond to any questions or needs raised by young people. As these cover a wide range of issues and problems, youth information and counselling is organised either to respond directly on a large number of topics, or to refer the user to an organisation or service which is competent in the desired area. Youth counselling and information services can also provide information on careers guidance, studies and scholarships, jobs and training, general health matters, relationships and sexuality, social security benefits, rights of young people, consumer rights, legal advice, European opportunities for young people and youth activities and exchanges. The principles of the service are coded in the European Youth Information Charter.

Media literacy is concerned with young people’s critical thinking in relation to the media messages and information they receive and use. Media literacy can be developed through education to raise awareness of many forms of media in everyday life, how they filter their perceptions and beliefs, shape the popular culture, influence personal choices and can be produced to service political agendas.

Intercultural dialogue is seen by the EU as “an instrument to assist European citizens, and all those living in the European Union, in acquiring the knowledge and attitudes to enable them to deal with a more open and more complex environment”. In the Council of Europe, it is understood as an “open and respectful exchange of views between individuals, groups with different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds and heritage on the basis of mutual understanding and respect’'. Within youth policy, the value of youth work and youth organisations is particularly recognised as essential to advance intercultural dialogue. Youth work practices aim to reach out and giving a voice and an opportunity to young people who are marginalised, giving them a chance to engage in dialogue and in generating greater solidarity and opportunities for social cohesion within neighbourhoods and communities. Engaging in constructive intercultural dialogue from an early age can set the tone for greater understanding, respect and participation for later in life, be it in the personal or professional spheres.

Hate speech covers all forms of expressions that spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance. While the prevention of hate speech is not an issue specific to young people, nor to the online world, a focus on these areas has become an increasingly important aspect of youth policy in recent years. Ensuring young people to engage in online debate particularly in order to prevent the spread of radicalism or populism is an increasing concern among policy makers. More details related to this area of policy can be found in the page Hate Speech and radicalisation leading to violence

The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers recommendation 90 (7) and 2010 (8) calls on member states to develop existing youth information and counselling services based on that are versatile, based on varied sources of information and that adapt to the many channels of information young people use.

Recommended resources

Council of Europe Recommendation No. R (90) 7 of the Committee of Ministers to member states concerning information and counselling for young people in Europe

Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)8 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on youth information

European Youth Information Charter (2004)

EU-CoE youth partnership: Intercultural Dialogue Guidelines

 

This page was last updated by Cristina Bacalso and Dan Moxon in December 2018 and
includes text taken from work by other authors for this website

Young people’s views Young people’s views

Youth Goal #4 “Information and Constructive Dialogue”, calls for Europe to:

Ensure young people have better access to reliable information, support their ability to evaluate information critically and engage in participatory and constructive dialogue.

The goal identifies that “young people experience difficulties to verify the accuracy and reliability of information. They need to be more adequately equipped to navigate the media landscape and to participate in constructive dialogue”.