The one about the public sector crashing into the 21st century

(This has been cross-posted from the Scottish Public Sector Digital Group blog.)

If you’ve been hiding under a rock this week you will have missed the news that the UK’s first Youth Crime Commissioner with Kent Police, 17 year old Paris Brown, stepped down from her position after less than a week because a few of her old tweets came to light. The tweets, some around three years old, were somehow brought to the attention of Kent Police and she chose to quit despite Kent Police asking her to stay. Ms Brown admits the tweets will have offended some people and adds that she had published them hastily or while just trying to act cool.

So, there are the top line facts. What do you think about this situation and how would you expect a colleague in the same position to respond? How would you expect your organisation to respond? What would you do if this happened to you? More importantly, do you think you or your organisation is equipped to deal with investigating or accepting the digital history of the incoming young workforce? Discuss.

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Gavin Crosby 8 Years Ago
For me, the issue is not what was said by whom - I've not seen what was actually tweeted. The issue is the experimentation of youth written for all the world to see. I certainly made stuff up to sound cool when i was 15, I made some pretty hateful statements too - about friends, peers and others that I didn't know. But crucially I made these statements at face to face gatherings of 15 yr olds. When parents, teachers or adult jo public was listening - I kept my mouth shut. So for me the issue is negotiating if social media posts are a permanent communication tool, or just chit chat. That hasn't really been decided by consensus - and perhaps never will be. If someone wanted to dig down and find out what i was up to at age 15 - it could be done, and I'm sure they could interview a few of my school friends etc - but apart form exam results - I'd pretty much be able to claim anything else was not correct and that they'd remembered it wrong. That's not the case with the Paris Brown incident. The issue is overwhelmingly biased unfavourably against young people: Any indiscretions are more recent Those indiscretions are still very easy to find on record No one has set the cultural rules for the conversation No one has explained the consequenses of these actions World wide peer pressure as opposed to a few people in your school A media environment very keen to find problems in public officials Kent Police acted correctly here I think in asking her to stay. There is an irony in the way Paris knew that a 'dignified' option would be to resign, but that when older people are caught out they cling to their jobs with all their worth. solutions: consensus about what social media 'means' education for young people (by people who 'know what they are talking about') on social media Societal acceptance that people can change, and what you said yesterday isn't necessarily what you believe today Right - I'm off to solve that last one now - back in half an hour ;-)
Leah Lockhart 8 Years Ago
There are so many layers... With regard to Ms Brown's decision to leave, I really wish that she had stayed and challenged the pressure, especially as the PCC managing her is still very supportive of her and wanted her to stay. I have seen commentary online suggesting the Police failed her but they can't force her to stay and I feel by publicly supporting her they have done the right thing (unless private discussions had been different of course.) I'm still really unclear about how her old tweets surfaced, who surfaced them and who exactly was pressuring her to leave. From where I'm sitting all signs point to a slow news day and big media shouting to citizens, 'Let this be a lesson: we will mine the depths of social media until we find something spurious to attack you with!!' I'm being slighly flippant as I don't take racism or homophobia lightly (reportedly the subjects of her tweets) and this story does throw up some serious discussion points. I am afraid if it wasn't Ms Brown it would have been some other teen- maybe the newest council employee? Like you, Gavin, I did and said things when I was a teenager that were hateful, stupid and emotionally charged. What young person hasn't? Isn't there some value in knowing that Paris Brown has been a normal young person, did some stupid stuff but learned from it and came out the other end? Isn't that person exactly who should be heading up a liaison between young people and Police? I enjoyed this article- 'Paris Brown is a teenager- adults need to grow up' -because it's challenging me, how I think about this situation and all the situations we'll see on the back of it. Is this all about a failure of adults, and especially adults who will be hiring young people, to understand Gen Y and Z? Or is this a lesson for young people that the things they do online will jeopardise their future job prospects? If it is the latter, would you have known what that actually means when you were 14?
Former Member 8 Years Ago
I agree with all the sentiments outlined in this blog, and thought the Guardian cif article was spot on. However, as someone involved with a multi-agency strategy and training in relation to e-safety, working with children & young people's and adult services, this isn't just a Gen Y or Z issue in relation to new employees, but an entire workforce development concern. Because an awful lot of adults really should [but clearly don't] know better too, when it comes to their online reputation.
Gavin Crosby 8 Years Ago
Absolutely Marisa, I just think that the impact for people who have not even entered the workforce is even higher - as they've not got expereience and track record in a job to sell themselves with I'd say with almost complete certainty that: chose to start using Twitter because a trusted peer told her it was useful/cool/everyone else is using it. she did not recieve a tutorial in how to start she saw hateful comments from others- including adults and probably 'celebrities' I'd also say that it was highly likely that she was not 'followed' by any childcare/youth/teaching professionals as we are normally specifically advised not to do that. her family will have 'followed' her quite late on - if at all Lastly, perhaps not in this case, but seems to be more common in general young people: started using twitter after negative experiences of facebook started using twitter because parents were on facebook specific platforms should be a bit of a ringer for any training and education- as it needs to be future proof, BUT the specifics of these platforms are so importatnt and different.