Paris Brown, Britain’s first youth police commissioner, has today announced she will not take up her £15,000 role following a series of tweets she wrote before taking the job, which included "I really wanna make a batch of hash brownies".
The 17-year-old revealed that she was stepping down at a press conference from her role of Kent Youth Police and Crime Commissioner, despite her earlier claims that her comments were just ‘youthful boasts’ and exaggerations.
At the conference, Brown said: "I have made the decision to decline the offer of the position of Kent Youth Police and Crime Commissioner.
“I have made this decision after a great deal of thought and consultation with my family.
“As I made clear over the weekend, I accept that I have made comments on social networking sites which have offended many people.
"I am really sorry for any offence caused.
“I strongly reiterate that I am not racist or homophobic.”
Holly Seddon, editor-in-chief of Quib.ly, a parenting and technology social network, told The Drum: “The Paris Brown Twitter story was frustrating to watch, and highlighted a scenario that will become more and more common place.
“Paris was appointed to bridge the gap between teenagers and the police in her community, she was chosen because she was a typical teenager. Her behaviour on her personal Twitter account prior to her appointment proves this. She was a typical silly, boastful teenager, with half-formed ideas and a tendency to tweet before she thinks. I’m fairly sure that many of us were silly, boastful teenagers who blurted out half-formed ideas once upon a time. I for one am very grateful that I didn’t have a public publishing platform as a teenager, let alone a publicly funded job and all eyes on me!
“The story highlights that our online personas are a blend of personal and professional, even if we think we’re keeping the two separate. Keeping a professional and impressive LinkedIn profile, for example, can still be undone by a foul-mouthed tirade or two on Twitter. That’s a lesson for us all, not just teenagers.
“It’s a shame that a noble experiment to improve understanding between teenagers and authorities has served to highlight what different languages both parties speak. Paris should have been better prepared (by adults around her) for the visibility that she had, the responsibility and the public profile she had been awarded.
“More than any generation before them, today’s teenagers are creating an online archive of their behaviour. Some of this behaviour is likely to be less than exemplary, because they’re teenagers going through a huge learning curve. As parents, we need to help steer them through this, teaching them about privacy settings, responsible behaviour and knowing their audience. Employers genuinely do look at personal social media accounts – often far more thoroughly than Kent police perhaps did – and a throwaway remark today could have a ripple effect years down the line.”
Dominic Sparkes, CEO and founder at Tempero, added: “Media speculation and tittle-tattle aside, the Paris Brown story only goes to highlight issues that reach far wider than just social media activity. Considering the position they offered this young woman, the powers that be should have researched her social media channels before committing to see if there was anything that was likely to have a negative impact. Whether they should have acted upon what they found touches on the employment issues surrounding social searches on potential candidates.
“It cannot be forgotten this young lady is a teenager and as such it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that there’s content on her social channels that is perceived as ‘undesirable’ – and even if content had been removed by her, it wouldn’t have taken long for a journalist to dig it up again with a couple of simple Google searches.
“It’s interesting that this story highlights how unaware they are or maybe how little teenagers care about the long term impact of the social media trail they leave behind and if nothing else this situation might educate young people about that issue.
“If older generations’ behaviour at University and elsewhere was to be made public I’m sure this particular ‘Paris-gate’ would pale into insignificance.”
Paris Brown was only appointed to the role last week.