Thursday, November 05, 2009

IDEA-Netherlands "Debate in the Neighborhood" program increases dialogue with youth

From September-December 2009, several activities focusing on debate have been planned in the Netherlands. All part of the "Debate in the Neighborhood" program organized by IDEA-Netherlands, these activities take place in the cities of Zeeland, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Recently, the program has worked in the community of Tholen to increase youth knowledge in policy-making. In addition, IDEA has worked to increase dialogue between youth and local police in Rotterdam.

On October 30th, Doutsen Langhout, the head of Dutch projects in the Netherlands, gave a training to the local Youth Council on how to organize public debates for youth. Additionally, the council was given instructions and tools, like games and exercises, on how to develop debate and public speaking skills in students. The Youth Council will use this training to organize a Debate Battle competition for eighth graders and a Debate Festival in March for high school students. In March 2010, the Youth Council will also organize shadow elections for the youth on youth policy.

On November 9th, local youth in the neighborhood of Crooswijk, Rotterdam will meet with local police to suggest solutions for the growing tension between them. Doutsen recently organized a series of meetings with local youth and police force members in Crooswijk to help them resolve issues. Tension has been growing between the two groups for some time now. These youth, particularly a group of 16-25 year olds, are referred to as "Hangiongeren, which has a bad connotation that people associate with loitering and criminal mischief. While the youth do admit to committing some crimes, the police use their authority to fine and incarcerate the youth, so as to keep the neighborhood quiet — even in some cases where they would be overlooked in normal circumstances. Thanks to the "Debate in the Neighborhood" program, these two groups have agreed to adress this situation, in a cooperative debate.

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