Youth Rights- Taking a Stand for the Americans of the Future

July 20, 2008
By Ryan Sweeney, Johnstown, PA

Youth Rights- the Last Civil Rights Movement

In the last century, we have seen many minorities gaining the civil rights they so rightfully deserve. African Americans have been given freedom, suffrage, and property ownership rights, as have women. Americans of Japanese descent were once held in camps during World War II under Presidential Order, however racial minorities such as these are gaining leadership positions in local, state, and federal government. Homosexual couples are now given full marriage rights in two states and civil unity rights in several more. However, I believe that the rights of a group being used as scapegoats by today’s society- youth- is an issue worth fighting for.

Let’s examine the facts. In the United States, various freedoms are denied to youth but not to adults, for example, various “ages” have been set. Take for example, the voting age. In our country, youth under the age of 18 are politically disempowered by being stripped of the right to vote, and yet those who support this law have the gall to wonder why 18-25 year olds have the lowest participation in elections. Since youth are not involved in the democratic process, the principles of democracy are not established.

Another issue is the drinking age. In the US, a young man of eighteen years of age can be drafted into military service, but cannot drink. In other words, youth in our country are considered old enough to die for their country, but not old enough to handle a glass of champagne at a family wedding. I personally find it a disgrace that adults point the finger at youth with one hand while holding beers in the other. This is related to the way youth are treated in the court system- despite having less civil rights, youth may be tried and given the same severity of sentences as offenders over 18. How is it fair to treat us like children and punish us like adults?

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