The Dublin group discussed this years theme and a reoccurring topic was how young people felt how they can be viewed in a negative light by adults. The group decided they wanted to explore how and why young people are viewed in a certain way by adults, particularly with those in authority. Interactions with schools, social work services and Gardaí were all highlighted as situations where they felt adults and young people often misunderstood each other.

We chose  to interview the Gardaí as they felt that they have a key role in “minding ourselves and each other.” The group wrote a letter and delivered these to several Gardaí stations in the Dublin area. The Bridewell station quickly responded and Sergeant David Cryan and Garda Shane Kelly agreed to visit the group for a Q&A session. The group prepared questions that they would like to ask the Gardaí. The group met the Gardaí and conducted the interview which was a great success.

The questions included:

Why do you stop random young people on the street?

A: We check if they should be there. We respond to calls from the community. We help and protect young people from what’s happening on the streets. Young people might meet the description of a group that we are looking for.

What’s changed for young people since you were a teenager?

A: Cyber bullying – means bullying can take place 24/7. People have less respect for each other.

What rules protect young people if they are in trouble?

A: Parent/Guardian must be informed and present. They are entitled to a solicitor and can contact local Sergeant or Ombudsman for Children if they are not happy with their experience.

Why did you become a Guard?

A: Every day I go to work to try help people.” “So enjoyable….but tough.”

There was one resounding discussion about using positive thoughts to help during a hard time. One young person had created a quote book for the group. Each young person then submitted their favourite quote that helps them or meant something to them. One young person enjoys taking photos of places around them. The group decided to share this resource and create a calendar -full of quotes and photos!

“When you focus on the positives, the negatives don’t seem as bad”