Why Young People Should Be Decision Makers

By Jenny Sazama and Karen S. Young
From Get the Word Out!, Youth on Board, 2001, pp. 4-6

There are many reasons young people should be decision makers to improve their own schools, lives, and communities. Below are some primary reasons to involve youth...:

It’s a diversity issue. Even though they may not have years of formal experience, youth offer intelligence, creative thinking, and a valuable outlook on the world that is seldom introduced into the governance of organizations.

It’s a democracy issue. To make a democracy work, all people need to be heard. This includes the voices of young people. We need to hear their views, ideas, and passions and act on their ideas for democracy to thrive in future generations.

It’s a bottom-line issue. Young people are uniquely qualified to say what works for young people. By relying on young decision makers to provide personal insights, talk with friends, and organize youth focus groups, organizations can save time and money by catching decisions that might not work well with young people before they are enacted and fail.

It’s a civil rights issue. Nowhere in the United States Declaration of Independence is there a stipulation concerning age. “All men are created equal,” all are entitled to “certain unalienable rights.” In far too many situations, young people are not being heard.

Their rights are being disregarded or violated, and adults do not seem to hear or care about it. The primary reason young people are not included is young people’s oppression, also called adultism. The oppression of young people is no one’s fault. Adults are not to be blamed for the stereotyping of young people or held responsible for ending it alone.

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