Youth engagement happens, no matter what. Adults may not like what it focuses on or how it happens, but it happens.
Here are three ways that youth engagement will happen in the future:
- Subjective relationships—If adults want to continue to expose them to specific issues and activities, or seek particular outcomes from youth engagement, it will be necessary for them to adapt and transform their approaches.
- Equal relationships—Another way is for adults to decide to value the things that young people engage in on their own volition. These youth engagement approaches entail adults meeting young people where they are currently, rather than insist that children and youth come to where adults want them to be in the future.
- Equitable relationships—The middle ground between these two approaches to youth engagement requires active evolution and transformation. It requires that adults learn to see young children and youth as equitable partners in their work, and to treat them accordingly.
Luckily, no matter which approach adults choose, youth engagement will continue to exist in the individual lives of young people, where they see fit and how they see fit. The sustained connections that young people make will never be solely dependent on technology, and youth engagement will never rely solely on government agencies either, or nonprofits, faith communities, schools, or other specific spheres and systems explored above.
- Find out more from my new publication available FREE as a pdf, A Short Introduction to Youth Engagement.