Politics for Teens: Are They Ready for It?

A group of teen boys


Increasingly, children and young men and women are stepping into political arenas which were considered the domain of adults. In an insecure world, they’re campaigning for their futures.

From the UK this season, pupils combined school ‘strikes’, taking into the streets to demand that more be done to tackle climate change. From the USA kids and young people took a direct at the March For Our Lives protests in reaction to gun violence and school shootings.

Unlike the stereotypical youth that you buy gifts to (see medium.com/@playtime/best-gift-ideas-for-16-year-old-boys-2c10d19b3363 for ideas on this), more kids are being encouraged to give their views on radio and television programs. Greta Thunberg’s speeches to Westminster and the UN are a case in point. And, needless to say, social networking has made it a lot much easier for young people to connect in discussion and also to organize.

At precisely exactly the exact identical time, young individuals tend to be over-protected by universities and other associations, cautious of exposing them to ideas that may lead to crime.

Given this increased political involvement, can it be time to expand voting rights to 16 and also 17-year-olds around Britain? Or could it be a violation of the childhoods? So what do we make of forecasts to provide kids more of a voice?

These queries have been aired by means of a panel in the Battle of Ideas festival at London earlier this season, which comprised an activist A-level pupil, where I had been a contributor.

Some believed that young people of the era were sufficiently mature and educated to have an equal state, particularly since their potential will be greatly affected by the results of elections and referenda. This included college pupils in the crowd, that had little trouble articulating their view!

Others contended that although it was essential to engage college pupils in political argument, the line between youth and maturity matters since it provides young teens the chance to work by using their particular thoughts, and at times make them wrong, with no responsibility for the effects of their choices. To put it differently, the very long duration of youth we’ve got in the united kingdom is a certain thing since it gives kids the room to experiment, reflect, and create their own worldview.

A couple of young audience members indicated voting at 18 has been a random line to draw on. That is a fair point, however, obviously, the line needs to be drawn somewhere. There’s an important social difference between pupils in college and people in college or in the office — which is their degree of independence. Young men and women who reside at home and head to college continue to be determined by adults to their well-being (in college, educators are at loco parentis) plus they do not have the individual right to get married, to purchase tobacco and alcohol, or to possess the land.


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In conditions of their notions on the planet, they’re inclined to be greatly affected by the adults around them, making it more challenging for the young man to differentiate between the adult in power who’s articulating the perspective — this is my own opinion. The young folks in the area felt they were somewhat much more independent-minded than that gave them credit for.

So what’s the part of schools? Some advantages noted were Faculties’ Councils and debating forums. On the flip side, schools now often lean towards shielding kids from challenging thoughts and adventures, representing a larger culture where individuals are reprehended for inducing minor crime. The committee believed that the vulnerability to strong debate and contradictory ideas had in prep for politics was absent from classrooms.

This raises an issue that requires more consideration: what knowledge and experiences do college pupils have to have to be able to assist them to prepare them for engaging in a democracy?

While we’ve had almost two years of citizenship education in the national program, this doesn’t appear to be adequate in a civilization that elevates security over liberty and challenge. Within their 2018 publication The Coddling of this American Mind, writers Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt report just some students on American campuses are more demanding protected spaces due to the fact that they discover some thoughts dangerous — a tendency also discovered on UK campuses.

They indicate that the faculty experience has led to some mind-set that’s been sheltered from the strong debate, vulnerability to challenging thoughts, and understanding exactly what it is to neglect. According to Nick Haslam’s work, Concept creep: Psychology’s expanding concepts of harm and pathology, Lukianoff and Haidt detail a civilization of overprotection of kids in the school and at home.

Their guidance for young people supports: looking for challenges (instead of avoiding or removing what that feels dangerous), preventing yourself from cognitive distortions (instead of expecting that your first emotions) and carrying a generous perspective of different folks, and searching for nuance (instead of assuming the worst about individuals inside a simplistic us-versus-them morality).

All these are significant first steps towards involvement in a democracy that welcomes and also tolerates contradictory viewpoints and indicates any strategy for pupil’s voice needs to tackle young people as opposed to getting comments on their suggestions and actions as opposed to as vulnerable people.