American Youth Encouraged to Stay Silent Concerning Current Events
There is a common misconception in today’s society that exists in the belief that the youth are not competent enough, nor well-versed enough, to hold legitimate opinions on political issues. This belief is subjective and highly contradictory to what children are preached from the moment they begin to understand the influence of opinion and the power of speech. We have a voice. We have power. We are the future. In one breath, we are encouraged to speak out for what we believe in, and against what we don't- yet in the same breath, we are told to leave the big talk to our “superiors”.
Teens should be given more of a voice in politics- a voice that is acknowledged and respected.
Following the Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting in Parkland, Florida, the surviving students, as well as students throughout the rest of the United States, have taken a more active role in shaping their futures by advocating against gun violence. These teens are at the forefront of the debate, using statistical evidence and first-hand accounts of the impact of the NRA in order to provide educated opinions on a political topic that has been a source of tension since the 1960s. However, their activism brings on criticism, as adults ranging from parents to politicians, belittle and discredit the words of the students. Dominantly in the media, these students have been described as being “crisis actors”, “political pawns for the left wing”, “too unstable to give reliable opinions”, and “too young to speak out on mature topics”.
Whether people want to accept it or not, today’s teens are the future of America, and deserve to be heard. Because of this, our elders should try to be more receptive to our views and opinions, rather than disregarding them. We should acknowledge one another’s views respectfully, and try to educate one another rather than discredit one another.
It can be agreed that there are many teens that do not have the level of maturity and knowledge on political matters that is necessary for them to provide relevant opinions. However, the same could be said for adults. At home, in the workplace, on social media, etc., students do and will face both discussions and debates on current events, as well as existing and even non existing policies in our government. Especially since seniors will soon become registered voters, they need to be trusted to be capable to hold mature conversations on differing political opinions and controversial topics.
Additionally, it is important to understand that many of past historical figureheads were young when they began to take charge in the political world. Joan of Arc defeated the English in the Hundred Years War and became a national hero at age 17. Marquis de Lafayette turned the tide of the Revolutionary War at age 19. Mozart was only 8 years old when he wrote his first symphony.
As a country, there should be more faith in today’s youth, their intelligence, and their judgement. We may be kids now, but we won’t be forever. The best way to prepare us for decision-making in the future is to enable us to practice it now.