Friday, 26 August 2011



August 2011, we saw devastating youth riots in England, with some children as young as 7 taking to the streets to take part in looting, vandalism, arson and violence. Burning buildings, homes and businesses destroyed with people injured and left homeless all arose as copycat riots, originally deriving from the shooting, by police, of a young man (Mark Duggan) in Tottenham, North London.

We know many teens during these riots just jumped on the thieves and rioting bandwagon and as some of them have said “It was a buzz, an emotional high, better than sex man!”  These kids are now being named and shamed and have ruined lives accompanied by a criminal record or prison that will take years to erase and all for making seriously wrong decisions and acting in a herdlike lawless fashion.  But are their lives ruined, it seems to me that many of them do not think too highly of their lives or the future, “What future”, I hear them say, these kids do not have respect for their lives or their liberty so really what can you take away from them, if they are not bothered about losing their own lives, they certainly won’t be worried about yours either.   

Public outrage and a smell of fear pervaded our streets. Why!? Personally, I think there is a generation of young people who have been left behind and forgotten, so when teenagers join gangs it really is as Prince Charles said ‘A cry for help’. I could not agree more, some of these lawless teenagers do not have role models in their disadvantaged lives, a gang becomes family and gives those young people relations and something more important, a sense of belonging. Lack of parental care, a lack of father figures, loss of power and discipline by parents and schools, where good behaviour is expected, unfortunately is not happening. 

Children and Teenagers threaten authority and parents with the state, leaving them with a fear of prosecution. Drugs, Drink, Poverty and Peer Pressure also play a role in this unruly behaviour, exaggerating situations and turning up the temperature of the violence and criminality which erupted. These are key areas that need to be worked on, even targeted by the government and authorities, to rule out such inhumane and violent activities. 

There are 120,000 disadvantaged families at this moment who urgently need support with their children and young people, the government are addressing this as a priority with Louise Casey at the helm!  But now we need a cure, healing, re-education and effective engagement programmes, unity with communities, schools and families working together and we as educators will keep trying and working with these young people, who have been let down by us the adults, responsible for them, they have lost their way somewhere in the world of the UK’s economic fragility and cuts. Unfortunately for these disadvantages children and young people it does not help for them to see fat cat bankers or celebrity cultured footballers earning zillions with fast cars and fashion styles, that is where they want to be but in a poverty stricken world that is never really going to happen so dreams of that are crushed pretty quickly! 

A collective failure of inequality must be addressed with teachers and parents taking charge to discipline, advise and guide the young people struggling with lives, schools must exert powers to do this otherwise these kids are literally dragging themselves up without role models, love, nurturing advice or guidance, it's children raising children; not a good idea in their already powerless lives.  Lack of parental care, drugs, drink, peer pressure and no sense of belonging or respect create a total lack of self esteem, values and morals in these lives that are already full of trauma, poverty and without fear! 

The tension from this pressure point, extends to the lid blowing off and then we begin to notice, why, because we are made to notice that all is not good, who could fail to notice what has just exploded in our faces, possibly because we really turned a blind eye, especially local government and the cabinet, to the services and support that were cut over 20 years ago and still not reinstated at all, leaving vulnerable kids to raise themselves in gangs, better to be in a gang and belong somewhere, than nowhere at all! Investment in children's lives is clearly the best intention for all concerned in this country.

A study of 500 grandparents has been carried out by market researcher which quizzed them on their quality of parenting compared to their offspring's.  It found four in ten grandparents believe their grandchildren are far less disciplined than their own children were at the same age and three in ten said their children are worse parents than they were. A hands off approach without boundaries and limits are not set for them or not carried through with 50% of grandchildren not feeling fear about being told off by parents, teachers or another adult.  Some grandparents even blamed themselves and wished they had disciplained their own children more, which in turn, would help them instil very necessary values in their grandchildren.

There are 65,000 children in care at this moment in time!!!  I have worked in children’s homes and saw firsthand children who never knew parents or family, without networks other than staff teams and picture story books of lives cared for by the state, fed and clothed well but with much lacking, don’t we need more than that to survive as human beings, we need love and even more love, that love makes most of us feel good, to be loved is a warm blanket of security, some of us are very lucky and have this love continually in our lives but imagine life without it, that love blanket keeps us evolving, prepares us for the day ahead and gives us hope and well-being everyday of our lives.

Now more than ever, education, effective engagement and 'talking therapies' is key to the cure and the change needed to help these kids take a new approach, start to learn about the better side of life and appreciate and respect it for what it is and what is on offer, they have the potential to be nice, kind and give back to society as well as be a valued member of it, niceness, kindness and goodness is not taught, it is something we learn from our elders, those of us who are lucky enough to have been showered with it.

So I appeal to you all to start supporting the young, yes I understand your anger totally, but now we must start a cure and go forward as soon as possible and by you just giving some time to reach out to the 1 million 10-19 year olds in London alone and the almost 1 million 16-24 year old young people unemployed in the UK; if you can offer a volunteer placement in your work place or business then do so, I have been bombarded with volunteer applications at Egar and there are Volunteer Centres throughout the UK with thousands of young people clamouring to be a volunteer, which is surprising but relished or maybe you can start an apprenticeship, whatever happened to them, even if it is for just one day a week, this will be the start of making these kids feel worthwhile, something they probably have never felt, because no one has ever told them they are great or given them any praise so they grow up totally de-moralised with life.

The conversation, karma road to recovery starts here at Egar.  We have so much expertise in dealing with teenagers by way of supportive resources to help you, help children and teens talk about the social and challenging issues in their lives, Egar conversation card sets help to focus on kid’s mindsets and attitudes and are a great way of assessing where they are with a given issue.  So guys, have a look at our card sets and posters, whether you are working with or raising kids, we can support you every step of the way with our simple to use, loaded and powerful resources that will save you much time, energy and wrangling and bring you a wealth of fulfilment in moving forward with the young people of today and tomorrow.  Do remember the strength of our country lies in its youth, let’s rebuild England and young lives, starting right now!

Sue is available for motivational speaking appointments for more information email

She will be speaking at The Queen's Head Pub 40 Essex Road Islington N1
For tickets see 
Tuesday 20th September 2011 at 7.30 p.m.

Sue will also be speaking at the Charities Buying Group CBG Conference
at The Tower of London
on 4th October 2011.

Thank you for your time.
Sue Scott-Horne
Teenage Champion

August 2011

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Inside the Teen Brain

Sue Scott-Horne knows how teenagers tick. A mother of four, she had worked for 25 years for a local education authority in London, starting as a youth worker and working her way up. She specialised in working with teenagers, working 12 years on the frontline, before being moved into management where she was commended for her commitment and innovative work.
In 2002, however, she broke her ankle and, due to complications, had to take early retirement.

The result is a series of educational resources, called Educational Games and Resources or EGAR for short.
She had done a lot of work in the past working with the school curriculum so she knew how to adapt what she was doing to fit with it. “I had something I thought I could develop into a socially driven business,” she said.
She didn’t know how to convert it into a business, though. However, one day she read an article in the local paper about women in Islington who had been made redundant and had signed up for a new course at London Metropolitan University’s Centre for Micro Enterprise. “My confidence was zilch,” she said. “I was not even sure I could do it.” Even so, she signed up for a short course and started, with her tummy flipping when she walked into the lecture room full of 50 women for the first time. 
“That first day changed my life,” she said. “It propelled me into something different.” She took the course day by day. She mentioned the game, which is based on discussion cards, to the director of her course as she said she knew nothing about financing it or protecting her designs. She was introduced to the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs and invited to be a member. She also contacted the British Library’s business and intellectual property centre.
She is passionate about women entrepreneurs, citing statistics showing 97% of patent applications are from men.
Her educational resources are based on her understanding of teenagers and her belief in the power of talking. “Communication is the main thing we do as humans,” she says. The cards are designed to get teenagers talking. They detail different dilemmas, for instance, they ask what you look for in a friend. “The teenage years can be very challenging,” says Sue. “Almost overnight a child can change. Just as no-one can prepare you for having a baby, no-one can prepare you for the teen years. You blame yourself. The challenge is to get the young person to open up.”

Emotional development
The cards can be used by parents or professionals working with teenagers. “Parents are often at an extraordinary loss for how to deal with teenagers. They may seem to be grown up, but their emotional maturity is often five years behind their bodily development,” she says. “They have a lot of bravado and there is a lot of peer pressure. You need to break the group up. They can be completely different on their own.”
Many teenagers who go on to get involved in gangs or crime have had to drag themselves up in difficult circumstances, she says. “If they do not have any time spent on them it is during their adolescence when it will all start to go wrong.”
She says today’s problems have been many years in the making and are a result of social and political policies, such as cutting back on youth centres and family break-up. Modern technology has not helped. Teens are now completely plugged into play stations, tvs, mobiles and other equipment and don’t talk as much as they used to, says Sue.
The cards help them and their parents. There are guides for parents and the emphasis is on not pointing the finger and creating a non-judgmental environment. The cards can be used on a one to one basis or for group work in classes or workshops. Themes include bereavement and addiction. They might be asked, for instance, what they first associate with anger and this can form the basis for a wider discussion.
The cards have been well received by colleagues working with teenagers and EGAR has just found out that they are national finalists in the Archant awards for Best Use of Technology. Sue has also been working with Mothers Against Violence and has been invited to the House of Lords and the Ministry of Defence. She has also met the chair of the London Assembly.
The game has just been officially launched. Sue says she felt really under pressure before the launch and worried about launching in a credit crunch, but she had to ride with it.
She had spent two to three years writing the cards and games and getting ready so she knew she had to go for it. Moreover, as she says, “because of the nature of what I have been doing with teenagers and young people I did not want to waste any time.”
It’s been a huge learning curve, but if the resources do what they are intended to, she knows it will be well worth it.
Author: Sue Scott-Horne 2010