Posted on 21 May 2019 by Chief Censor David Shanks
New Zealand Youth Week is a great time to celebrate young people by recognising their contributions and achievements. The Office of Film and Literature Classification understands that our decisions affect young people, and so it is essential we include them in our work. Our Youth Advisory Panel is made up of a diverse group of individuals from all over the Wellington region. They regularly meet to discuss various issues and experiences and share their insights with us.
We have members who are heavily into politics and current affairs, and others who just love to watch movies! Each has a valuable perspective and knowledge to share and one thing they have in common is their passion for youth voice. Let me share with you some of the amazing things they have done over the past year…
When the ugly side of social media reared its head on 15 March 2019 our youth panel came together to discuss the implications of the Christchurch terror attack livestream on young people. This was an attack that was designed to go viral targeting people using social media. Of course that meant it reached many young people. Our panel discussed the repercussions that come with being a part of a generation that is so connected via social media. They felt that other generations were fortunate to grow up without being exposed to such horror. They also spoke about New Zealand’s laws being too outdated for today’s social media climate, and they felt that social media platforms needed to take more accountability for events such as this.
Although it’s against their morals it is within Facebook and YouTube’s interests to have a video like that on their site. It’s all about clicks and views.Robbie, member of the Youth Advisory Panel
Colm is an expert on digital safety, and he was invited to join us for a chat about the phenomenon of nude selfies. The panel shared their own knowledge on nudes and the behaviours and impacts they had noticed in their own communities. They asked Colm and I questions about the work we do to help prevent the spread of nudes. The young people helped us understand how nudes are spread and the possible consequences for the young people involved. By the end of the session it became evident that young people could benefit from more information about the laws and broader issues around nudes.
The panel has been invited to participate in several film screenings and classification discussions. When films are going to broadly appeal to young people it is valuable to have the input of our panel in the final decision. When the OFLC classified the film Boy Erased Alma and Lulu explained that there was a different perspective and level of maturity between 14- and 15-year-olds to properly contextualise the classifiable elements of the film. Our discussion influenced the decision to classify the film R15.
Our meetings are great opportunities to innovate, solve problems and make decisions with the collective intelligence of a group. With such a diverse group of young people it was important that we encouraged a thoughtful and open-minded environment for each person to express themselves in. Young people can offer so much more than what society perceives of them. Young people are often stereotyped and portrayed as a group that don’t have much to offer. Working with the Youth Advisory Panel has shown me that this stereotype is simply wrong. Young people have huge insight into the challenges their generation faces, and they the energy and ideas to make things better. Our engagement with our Youth Advisory Panel has changed the way we think about our work here at the office.
I would encourage any agency whose work touches young people to think about how to give young people a voice. It works and it’s important.