The Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel (YRAP) consists of a number of young people from varied backgrounds who all share a passion for raising awareness against sexual exploitation and violence. The group was set up as the International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, trafficking, and violence wanted to ensure that young people have an important say within every level of research they do. Young peoples’ views are especially desired when deciding upon the research agenda, improving how the International Centre involves children and young people in their research and in making sure research findings are shared widely to make a difference. The Young Researchers’ Advisory Panel was created to help with these things and thus consists of young people who can offer expert advice on the issues researched, drawing on their own knowledge base and experience of working on previous research projects with the International Centre.
As a member of the YRAP, I attended a conference by BASPCAN which is a registered charity providing education and professional development opportunities for child protection professionals, whilst also seeking to educate and inform the general public. I was given the opportunity alongside another member of the YRAP to present at this conference; speaking about why it’s important to involve young people in research and exploring the possible benefits and limitations of this. It was an extremely empowering event to be able to speak at because it felt like our voices were truly being listened to and that people were interested in what we had to say. In reflection, it was influential for the International Centre to involve myself and another YRAP member in the presentation because our key point to get across was that it’s important to include young people in research. Involving two young members of the YRAP in the presentation was therefore a real life example of how to put this into practise.
The biggest reason for my motivation to take part in the conference was to take the chance to inform professionals about the unique role of the YRAP and to potentially encourage their willingness to involve other young people. Myself and the other member of the YRAP prepared for the presentation by having online meetings and discussions of specific content we wished to include.
Conclusively, the conference was powerful and an extremely beneficial to those who attended. The congress dinner after the presentation provided a significant opportunity to network and gain insight into the work that many other professionals do. Both members of the YRAP feel grateful for this opportunity as this also provided us with future ideas and directions for the YRAP as a whole.