Involving Youth in Government

Good news! There is more interest in youth involvement in government than ever before! Moving from simplistic youth pages on government websites and traditional youth forums, Youth Voice is springing up from small town administration to state legislative youth advisory councils as never before. Some activities appear to be typical or traditional, and some are highly innovative. Some harvest diversity where there apparently isn’t any, while others look bland and staid in cities that are massively diverse. Through its long-standing efforts, the Maine Legislative Youth Advisory Council deserves special recognition for their lessons learned. Freechild is among many organizations providing support for these activities, including Forum for Youth Investment, individual state programs, and others.

However, buried inside this rosy picture is an inherent tension that isn’t often acknowledged. In my experience many conversations about youth involvement in government begin with one of two assumptions:

  1. Youth are under-informed about government and could learn more by becoming involved, and;
  2. Youth are fully informed and can contribute equally to adults.

The tension therein is that neither is assumptions is wholly true or false. I’ll explore that a little in the near future. Have a great day, and write back – I’d love to hear what you think.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

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