Youth Aren’t Worthless

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Youth Aren’t Worthless

We live in an era of rampant injustice toward youth, simply because of their age. Additionally, young people of color are discriminated against because of their race; young LGBTTQQ people are discriminated against because of their identities. However, all young people everywhere face contempt, distrust, and more just because of their age.

The message that so many youth today get is that they are worthless as humans until they meet adult expectations, or until they are seen as adults. Think about that word, worthless. A Google search says,

“(of a person) having no good qualities; deserving contempt.”

Sure, you may never have used this word to describe a young person. But think about your actions.

  • If you’re a teacher, do you make most decisions in school without your students?
  • If you’re a youth worker, have you chosen the easy route for programs instead of the ones with the most rewards for youth?
  • If you’re a parent, have you ever dismissed your child’s opinions out of hand?
  • If you’re an employer, have you used jargon around young people without explaining it?
  • If you’re an elected official, have you ever spent significant time with your youth constituents in order to learn their perspectives and then acted on them?

The underlying message to all of this (and so much more) is that youth are worthless.

I want every youth who are told they are worthless to be told instead they are our only hope. That’s the reality of our world: We’re inherently, completely, and fully dependent on young people to make the future we all live in.

Historically, when our society didn’t recognize that reality we literally lost youth. They shrunk, hid, diminished and escaped from the rigor of daily living in a broad society. This is to our detriment and theirs.

To recognize the value of youth today, we need to make new spaces, create new opportunities, and harness new learning for adults and young people to work together in equitable, honest partnerships that reflect the genuine, authentic needs throughout our world today.

That is our only hope.

"I want every youth who are told they are worthless to be told instead they are our only hope." - Adam F.C. Fletcher

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