Youth Voice: A Right or Responsibility?

Young people, working with adults as partners, have the ability and capacity to cure the world of all of its ills. Sickness, famine, poverty, war, environmental catastrophe and economic meltdown can all be answered by the energy, idealism, knowledge, power, and wisdom of children and youth. Nothing is over the heads, hearts or hands of young people today, and they demonstrate that everyday in the ways they are living their lives.

Youth Voice is the active, distinct, and concentrated ways young people represent themselves throughout society. It is this voice taken through the Cycle of Youth Engagement that answers the challenges of society every single day. So my question is whether Youth Voice is a right or a responsibility. In a time when every single issue feels glaring and the planet is apparently at a tipping point do the adult allies of young people have any alternative than to engage young people in working towards transforming this grand clustermess? By not engaging them are we being more than unresponsive– are we actually being irresponsible? 

Moreso, with that state of the times in mind, is Youth Voice a right or a responsibility? I would argue that our society can no longer wait for children and youth to wait for us, the adults who are taking our time getting to them to engage their voices. This may be foisting an undue amount of responsibility on the shoulders of the young, but honestly, aren’t we doing that already by ignoring the major issues awaiting them as adults? 
These are some of the major issues entwined in Youth Voice, ones that go beyond the generalized and unsophisticated conversations we’ve been having for the last 10 years I’ve been in the this national movement. Its time to crack this egg open.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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