Why It’s Important For Teenagers to be Politically Engaged

Isn’t it awesome that at 16 years old you get to vote and be engaged in the political changes happening around you? Oh wait, that doesn’t happen. Even though you pay adult fares, are legally old enough to join the Army, deemed responsible enough to make a decision about your education/future that will affect you for the rest of your life, are able to be an organ donor, and even legally allowed to apply for a passport without parent consent, you still are not legally able to vote.

Here’s the thing - the future of America, or the world in general, is in the hands of the Youth. All of the decisions that are made by the people in power won’t even be around long enough to see the long-term impacts of their decisions on future generations. Older generations love to say that teens should be more aware of their surroundings and be more active in their community, but are treated like children when it comes to being able to discuss their future with remarks such as “being too young to understand”.

In a political environment such as our own government, the students of the future are becoming more and more fed up with waiting for the older generations to sort out their problems- especially problems directly concerning youth. Spikes in national issues such as gun violence, climate change, and Women's and LGBTQ+ rights have been shattering the silence of the youth, which is exactly what needs to happen.

An example of this earth-shattering, boom-box of a voice that teenagers have, stemmed from the effects of gun violence. Directly after the massacre that happened at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, thousands of students across the United States walked out of class for 17 minutes in tribute to the 17 students and staff who were murdered. This student-led and coordinated movement for gun control held silver-tongued young voices, ready to fight with symbolism and social media, that was whole-heartedly untouched by cynicism. These types of movements are just the bottom layer of what youth are capable of when given the platform and resources to amplify their beliefs in what their future gets to look like. There are multiple things you can do to show your advocacy, even when underage. Participating in school clubs and volunteering with political organizations are just a couple of ways to be engaged. Reading up and staying in tune with the politics happening around us every day is another way to stay informed. If you’re anything like how I was and are ‘chomping at the absolute bit’, as one of my friends would say, for your turn to be legally allowed to participate in the political environment, just know that you are not alone. You are one of the millions and you have an infinite number of 18+ year-olds standing behind you and pushing you to be an advocate for what you want to see in your future.