Building Our Youth for the Future | Teen Ink

Building Our Youth for the Future

April 27, 2016
By tardistraveler241 BRONZE, Columbus, New Jersey
tardistraveler241 BRONZE, Columbus, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I am not throwing away my shot." - Lin-Manuel Miranda

Children are the future of our world. They represent both the legacy left behind by the current generation, and new beginnings and advancements that will be made. But this great title only gets its merits when the children and teens turn 18 and “officially” become adults. At that point, they are thrown into the world and expected to know enough about it and its inner workings to be able to get a job, participate in government, and be a successful person.

This system is flawed.

There is no magical fairy who comes to people on their 18th birthday and gives them knowledge. While parents and teachers can teach kids the theoretical side of things, practical experience is the best way to learn about the world. It doesn’t even have to be national government. Youth citizens can get a taste of how the government works by participating in government on the state or even the district level, as New York City has already begun to do.

In 2015, the city filled 2 of the 50 spots in each of the boards of its government with teenagers 16 or 17 years of age. This movement has helped teens get more involved in their community, as well as get their own say in what goes on around them. It also shows teens involved that “the government actually does things,” according to 16-year-old Josh Waldman.

However, this movement has sparked controversy among the citizens of New York. As Leila Eliot, 16, said, “There are some people who definitely had doubts - the fear that I’ll ask ridiculous questions, that I won’t pay attention during meetings. It’s the same problems you’d have with anybody, really... People just assume teenagers are trouble.” While this may be true, if we were to make government interesting and appealing for teens, it wouldn’t pose a problem. Some of the chairpeople even commend this new concept. “I’m 47 - I don’t really know what a 17-year-old wants,” stated Henry Butler, manager of a Brooklyn community board.

Our country can benefit greatly in implementing this concept everywhere, even on federal levels. According to Census, as of April 2014, 24% of our country’s population is under the age of 18. That’s a pretty significant amount of people who aren’t getting representation in our government. We may be young, but we have opinions. We may be young, but we have ideas. We may be young, but someday, we will be in charge of this country. We need to start preparing now, so we can direct the future in a way that’s best for America.

The author's comments:

This began as an entry for the New York Times Editorial Contest, but I still believe that this issue needs to be dealt with. The world's youth are in control of its future, and the current generation and future generations could benefit from showing young people how the world works earlier, so they can be more prepared when it falls into their hands.

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