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Poverty...It's not a choice

It’s not a choice: An analysis of young people’s perceptions of poverty and rights

It’s not a choice is a research report, published by the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP), that presents the findings of research carried by Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) in early 2015. Download the report here.

The SYP is a fundamentally rights based organisation; their mission, vision, and values are grounded in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  In particular, their purpose embodies Article 12: “Young people have the right to express their views freely and have their opinions listened to in all matters affecting them.” 

MSYPs voted for their 2015 National Campaign to tackle poverty, it’s causes and stigmas.  While working on the POVERTY: See It Change It campaign, they recognised a lack of information available about young people’s views on poverty.  The research for this report was gathered to fill that gap in information.

The aim of the report is to better understand the perceptions and views of young people across a number of areas, including:

  1. Their understanding and perceptions of poverty, including who it affects, the causes and the impacts;
  2. Their views on the approaches adopted by governments to tackle poverty; and,
  3. Their perceptions of their rights, and the relationship between rights and poverty.

The findings of this report make it clear that young people recognise the negative effects poverty has on families, children, and young people, and that they strongly believe governments have a responsibility to protect the rights of children and young people, and involve them in efforts to tackle poverty.

The findings from It’s not a choice show that young people:

  1. Understand who is affected by poverty;
  2. Do not believe that people are in poverty solely because of their choices, and are less likely to believe this is the case than the wider population;
  3. Have a strong understanding of the causes of poverty;
  4. Strongly recognise and understand the emotional, social, and financial impacts of poverty among young people;
  5. Believe governments do not spend enough money tackling poverty;
  6. Display a lack of awareness about what governments are doing to tackle poverty among young people;
  7. Believe the solutions to poverty reside in increasing vocational education, paying the living wage, improving further and higher education, providing affordable childcare, and improving schools in deprived areas;
  8. Believe governments have a responsibility to protect the rights of children and young people;
  9. Believe the views of children and young people must be listened to by decision-makers when deciding how to tackle poverty;
  10. See poverty and the defence of their rights, or lack thereof, as being linked.

Download the full report here.