By Lerin Bajaj
Lerin Bajaj (above) receiving the Big Local Youth Award with Deputy Mayor of Hounslow Mukesh Malhotra in 2017.
A few months ago, I organised and developed a series of Crime and Punishment educational workshops aimed at my peers. Crime and punishment is an ongoing issue affecting the world, therefore I wanted to create awareness of the issues people face globally, as well as, to contribute in making a positive impact in other young people’s lives.
In week one, I was lucky enough to have a few people attend my workshop, as well as, some individuals from the Hounslow Youth Council. Everyone was split into groups. I started with brainstorming activities involving people to think about certain issues, such as: sharing their opinions on crime, their understanding about the topic and their knowledge in relation to crimes happening in society. Thereafter, I explained the classifications of crime followed by a group discussion on the ways to tackle crime, in addition to, a role-play activity. Overall, this session made me feel more confident and positive about the following weeks ahead and assured me that I could do this!
"...everyone was extremely mature and expressed their opinions in a very respectful manor."
After intensive discussion with the participants during the first week about different crime related topics, I chose the topic Sexual Harassment because it is an ongoing issue affecting many people worldwide. I started by verbally explaining what Sexual Harassment is and I played an educational video for additional information. Not many people knew the statistics of Sexual Harassment around the world, so I developed a guessing game where the class guessed statistics on sexual harassment. The statistics left everyone shocked. Are you aware that 120 million girls have experienced forced sex or other sexual acts? I shared stories about different cases of harassment and asked for their opinions on the scenarios. In addition, I asked what they would have done in that case. Since many people do not feel very comfortable talking about a sensitive topic like this, I was not sure what feedback I was going to get. However, everyone was extremely mature and expressed their opinions in a very respectful manor.
"...it was an amazing experience meeting Mukesh because we learnt a lot from his life and experiences."
Week four was aimed at the history of crime from the middle ages to the 20th century. The group were informed about different crimes committed in different era’s, as well as the cruel punishments people endured and how the punishment system has evolved over the years. The session ended with a debate on a considerate issue: Capital Punishment. This debate challenged the participants to think whether capital punishment should be re- introduced in the UK.
The final week was dedicated to fun activities surrounding the issues of crime. My first activity was The Justice Court game whereby the whole room was transformed into a Court. The young people were challenged to play different roles, such as, the judge, witness and the jury. I gave the class different scenarios which challenged them and made them think. Another game played was murder mystery: every person was given a new identity and different alphabet rhymes were hidden around the room to solve the mystery. In the end, the letters equalled to the name of the murderer. I pre-planned this with one of the participants and asked them to hide so that when everyone had found out who the murderer was they would try to find them. This session was an absolute fun!
Lerin with members from the Big Local Youth Action Team at the Consultation Event in September 2018
Overall, I believe these sessions have made me more confident and responsible. I learnt leadership skills and how to work effectively with other young people. These workshop sessions have accounted for my overall personal development. I would like to thank everyone for attending the sessions. My special gratitude goes to Taz for believing in my abilities and for giving me a responsible role and the opportunity to learn!
By Lerin Bajaj, 14 yrs.