The Voice of Youth

A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)

A few weeks ago I attended an event sponsored by the American Bar Association that was meant to be a town hall meeting to discuss ways to end teen violence.

I say supposed to because the event reminded me of an Academic conference meant for sharing the ideas of the panelists and nothing more.  This isn’t to say that the ideas of the panelist weren’t informative, educational, and even profound.  Indeed, many of them were.  But some on the panel didn’t seem to be working toward the good of all.  Instead, they seemed to be expressing their views without listening to the views of others.

One panelist, however, seemed to hit the issue dead on, no pun intended.

She commented that one day she decided to sit some of the neighborhood youth down and ask them what they thought about the things going on in the neighborhood and the world.  But she didn’t stop there.  She listened to their answers.

Yes, I said she listened.

So often kids are not listened to.  They are ignored and treated as children.  And while they are children in many ways, they still have a voice that should be allowed to be heard.  In fact, in my life it has often been the ideas of youth that seem to create the greatest change in society.  But not at this event.

The ironic thing was, when they got to the part of the evening where they opened the floor to the audience, they had only left twenty or so minutes for people’s comments.  Well, for what the audience expected would be their chance to comment.  Instead the moderator of the evening informed the audience that they were only to ask questions of the panel rather than provide other ideas.

I was in utter shock.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Here was a panel for an evening that was supposed to be about community building and getting ideas for ending a plague of death upon our youth, and they didn’t even want to hear what the community had to say.

What the youth had to say!!!

And to make matters worse, the first community member, a youth, never got his questions answered.  The panel talked around the questions and at the teen, rather than to the teen.

As an adult, an educator, and a community member, I was absolutely mortified, especially in light of the fact that one of the panelists had only said an hour earlier that it was most important to listen and talk to, not at, the youth we are trying to provide a safe community for.

I am sad to say that I don’t think much was accomplished at that town hall meeting, except to further push youth away from adults meant to serve as role models.  No answers came about.  The community’s voice was not heard.

And no, youth were not asked to serve as panelists.  Their voice was once again squashed by the weight of what always has been instead of the hope of what could be.


50 thoughts on “The Voice of Youth

  1. I agree that children need to be listened to. A child’s social awareness begins at a young age, and you better believe that as soon as they can communicate effectively with words, everything you say is fair game. On the topic of listening however, there is one particular experience that always comes to mind.

    For many years I was a nanny for various families. One 3 year old boy, Jonas, was the youngest of a family with 6 children and 2 divorced parents. Now at the particular time, Jonas was not trying to communicate anything to me, but simply listening to him role play with his toys communicated anything anyone needed to know. As he used his “Little People” to play house, he was using the mother and father figures to constantly argue with each other. The father would then go into the play house and Jonas would use his own little character to ask his daddy not to hit him anymore. This broke my heart.

    Listen to your children, and to any child that has something to say! They absorb so much, and with such an innocent and unbiased perspective. We always want children to listen and learn from us, we need to start listening and learning from our children.

    1. Children are the future for the world and must be heard. They need to speak so their directions lead to prosperity. Their straight forwardness can help in the social world that they live in. The youth today are raising the voice to the world that they need to be heard and it is important for us to hear them. What is it like to be a youth in today’s society? What are their biggest troubles? Why is it hard to listen to the youth?

      1. I definitely see where you are coming from with this. Children are the future so why are we right to ignore them? We think there nieve and young and are yet to experience life? So why don’t we help the experience life. Let them speak about issues being encountered. I am more then sure their issues are different from parents issues now a days. Adults should be there to talk them through it and see if there is anything they can do to help. Instead adults push them away, they don’t take them serious, and growing up the worst feeling is being ignored by adults. They want to be able to be heard, they want their opinion to matter. I specifically remember growing up having 3 older brothers and being the only girl, nothing I ever said mattered. It would anger me beyond belief because I would just be ignored. Even at the dinner table if i would start to talk about something being an issue or even about my day I would get talked over and no one would care. I for one will take anything my children say to heart to make sure they are being heard. No child should not have an input. Theres should matter the most.

    2. I definitely agree with what you are saying MaeK and I have seen something similar through taking care of one of my family friend’s kid too. His parents were at the stage of getting an divorce and yelling constantly went on in that household. When they were yelling, it’s as if the kid doesn’t exist and they never thought about how he may feel about watching everything that is happening. Once I simply told him that he needed to stop throwing around all his toys, he began yelling at me so loud that I seriously wanted to just leave. But the reason he’s behaving like that is because he saw his parents doing it. Thus, it is definitely necessary to remember that children are always watching. Even if they have not gone through as many experiences as an adult, their feelings and thinking must still be accounted for.

  2. I think when kids are not listened to it can really affect them. Kids take that to heart and feel low about it. I really being a kid and I would be at my Uncle’s house for Christmas, all of my cousins are older than me and they would be playing board games. Well, i was pretty good at those board games, but because i was just a “kid”, they did not want to take my suggestions as far as what the answer could be. I proved them wrong when i got a lot of them right.

    Kids do not forget the way adults treat them. They need someone to talk to and for that person to reciplicate back. That is how children learn, they talk, and then the adult is supposed to talk back with them.

    1. I totally agree with you! It is hurtful when adults do not take our suggestions to heart just because we are younger than them and have “experienced” less. I feel like sometimes, kids are even smarter than some adults and the comments given are much better than ones given by adults.
      It is necessary for adults to treat us as equals. We have a brain and we can think for ourselves, so we deserve a chance to speak out our concerns.

  3. I may be 18, but I feel as if I am a kid. I think kids goals and ambitions in life are not pursued half the time becuase of a confidence issue. They say confidence is key, but if you aren’t given the chance to express yourself, where are we suppose to develope this confidence from? A vast majority of role models are older adults. You say that kids aren’t listened to and their opinions aren’t taken into consideration, which leads us to closing out the brillant minds of kids, but also we lose hope within ourselves becuase we believe we can’t do it. Taylor Swift is just the perfect role model for teens. Her lyrics are her personal thoguhts. She is young and still making a name for herself in our society. We need more people like her, so kids will be listened to and pursue their ideas.

  4. I totally agree. The entertainment world needs more people that kids can look up to, not people that are going to influence the kids poorly. I think the reason why adults do not take children seriously is because of the view society has on them. They think most children are “punks” or “trouble makers”, but not necessarily. It’s all about where the child was raised from and how their parents taught them to act.

  5. I completely agree that children/young people (including myself) are not always listened to. Many adults feel children are too young or not experienced enough to have a useful opinion on issues, but I would have to disagree. I think in some cases young people can be more open minded and more subjective on topics because they haven’t had so many experiences and don’t have so much history dealing with certain issues. Many young people’s opinions are blunt but helpful. I think so much of our culture doesn’t listen to young people because they were not listened to when they were younger. There is that saying that states “Children should be seen and not heard.” That saying is the most ignorant and close-minded thing I have ever heard. In our society where we are all suposed to be equal and are entitled to our own opinion, why should age matter? Who is someone to feel superior to someone else based on age? Our country has evolved and changed in many ways, but some sayings and ways of thinking need to be put to death, such as this one.

    1. I agree with what you are persuading. It is already the 21st century. People say that things will change for the better, it has not. Because everyone is so locked in their own little bubble that they cannot bare to hear the different ideas that may potentially suggest of their flaws.
      I liked how you stated that even though young people’s responses are blunt, they are often useful. Young minds think different than the more experienced. They have a lot more creativity in their responses so in order for our world to continue to grow, we need responses like this.

  6. I truly believe positive change can result from the smallest actions made by everyday people. I am disappointed to hear that no discussion was allowed at the end of the meeting because I believe this would have been the most eye opening, informative part. Children are the future and adults always forget this. One day at work (a restaurant); a young girl came to the front counter to with her mother’s credit card. When the server was done running the card, she handed the card back with all the papers…and started explaining to the young girl about how important it was for her mother to sign and which receipt was theirs to keep. If the child would have presented all the receipts to her mother without explanation, there would be no confusion guaranteed. The actions of the serve were trying to make the girl feel important with responsibilities even though the process of signing a store copy receipt is quite simple. I realize that little things like this really boost a child’s self-esteem.

  7. It’s sad to see yes that children can’t be listened to anymore, they are treated like dogs in streets or test animals to be prodded and studied. It’s revolting to say the least, these people want change then they better need step away from the academic side and really think of practical ways they change the current situation.

    But I do think there is some hope, as you said there was at least one person that listened to the concerns of the community and that’s what’s important. Though, that said good intentions can pave the path to hell pretty damn easily, while they are all probably good intentional individuals I think what they are doing is leading to a situation that is worse than what it is now. No one wants to be scientific experiment, so why should life be either?

  8. It’s extremely sad to see the youth of our country still being ignored today. We, the youth, have many good ideas and things we believe need to be done to help stop the violence among the youth. The extreme part of this is the youth are our future, yet we are never listened to and just told to mind our own business. This is the kind of things that lead to the youth believing they need to take things into there own hands. When this occurs, this is what leads to our youth believing they need to do things their own way and support themselves. The youth being heard can lead to a greater social world than we live in now. In doing so, it will also allow better communication among the youth and the adults in our society. this will lead to becoming a better society itself. this is why the youth needs to be listened to, they are young but have a enormous amount of things they believe can be done to help the violence among the youth.

  9. This saddens me because panelist swear they have all the answers and probably do not even have children of their own, like Oprah. Apparently, their ways of dealing with the youth were not submissible so why not hear from the youth instead? SMH, kids have current ideas, they know what is going on amongst themselves, they’re the ones walking these streets, so why not let their voices be heard. The panelist used their authority status as a handicap to prove that they were the only ones with the “right” answers. It is also obvious they did not want advice from the youth or the adults in the community by allowing only 20 minutes of, not feedback, but questions. Questions – you ask and we will answer. Until they get off their high horse, thinking they know it all because of a degree, things will never change. Children like to have an opinion, because they want to feel apart of something, not a part from something.

    1. Absolutely the point of the article. As a Activist Sociologist, rather than a theorist, it is important to get out there and work WITH the kids to find solutions to the violence, not just be talking heads theorizing about how it should be done. I know a woman who works with youth through her theatre company, teaching them that there are alternatives, and then she provides them one. That is how it should be done. That is how it works – through action and not words.

      1. I agree, I never understood the logic behind “shut up and listen”; what is the point of a meeting without objectives and inputs. They should have wanted to hear what our youth have to say. That brings me to say this, the image they are portraying will cause the youth to grow up and treat the next generation the same way. Or, hopefully it backfires and if they do let the youth speak, they will see some of the most creative ideas that have yet to come. I guess one good thing I can say about that meeting you attended is, at least no conflict was created, other than the obvious; Mr & Mrs Know-it-all.

  10. Being a parent myself, I personally feel it is so important to listen to what your child, and any child, has to say. Children are not only the future but they are a lot smarter then we like to think. We like to think that we are always right and that because we have lived life that that automatically makes us wise and knowledgeable. Children can bring a different side or a different argument to certain topics that we may not understand because we are no longer in their shoes. If we keep ignoring them and not listening to when the speak, then they are no longer going to have the confidence to speak out and then where will the leave us? I think people forget that EVERYONE is equal.

  11. I agree with this article completely. I feel strongly about kids being listened to because I used to feel as though no one listened to me when I was on student council in middle school.Even though I knew first hand what my peers wanted to be changed. Because of that I did not want to run when I got into highschool. I thought “whats the point?” Also how can they have a meeting to stop violence among teens but not listen to what they have to say? I don’t understand how that works, or why the panelist thought it would. Not to mention how it makes kids feel when there not taken seriously or ignored. It makes them feel worthless or unimportant.

    1. Ashleyemilyjb, It is good to hear it from your point of view, by you being on the student council and not being listened to. I can imagine why you would not want to run and just continue to let things fail. Next time be strong and stand up for what you believe, although it may have been hard as a child. Your feelings at that age are easily crushed. Maybe you can write to that school and let them know how that made you feel, then they will be aware if the situation is still happening. It is worth a shot.

  12. In some cases the youth do have a voice. In my home town I was a member of the Grand Haven Youth Area committee. This particular group was able to voice its opinions on things that were going on in our community as well as provide seed money for local business and foundations to start. Some of the grants that we received we stated that we would partially fund if the adult board matched our amount given. The adult board would hint to our adviser that this is a good grant to fund and they are fully behind it. Although they never gave any money to back it. The Y.A.C. would then decide if we thought this was a good grant and give a portion of money if the adult board matched our portion given. This way they had to listen to what we actually thought of this grant.
    In your case it is very sad that they did not listen to the community and answer the youths questions. The majority of towns dance around any question that is asked no matter what.

  13. As a young person in a community in Chicago I understand the frustrations caused by this meeting. Often times decisions are made for us and i consider myself very different from common “youth”. I feel i am very much mature and rational not only about small problems in the community but the outside issues as well. I am legally an adult but I still don’t get my voice heard. I agree that in lowering violence in young adults their voices should without a question be heard. There are many ways to communicate with us and since we are the future, our voices need to be heard. No one person has all the right answers, young people don’t have them either but if things would be made even among a community, we’d see more production and positivity.

  14. If I was in the town hall I would be shocked and upset as well. How is the community going to change if they won’t listen to the people that are suffering the most? In order for a change to occur the adults and the youth have to work together.If the town hall didn’t want to hear the voices of the youth why were they invited? Being 18 I am considered an adult but honestly I see myself as a kid as well. The youth need to be heard because we have good ideas that will better the future. By listening to the youth it can actually cut down on the violence. It would make a difference in both the youth and the adult’s lives. The youth are important they can make a big impact on the future. The youth today are the future leaders of tomorrow.

  15. I, being a young adult myself, completely agree with the statement that children need to be not only listened to but heard. In a world where “being older” gives you authority and power no matter how much experience you have , leaves room for conflict and unfair treatment to societies youth. I personally have been placed on the backburner when it comes to having a say in things and the outcome has affected the way I am with my family. I believe in order to feel accepted in a family you have to be heard and feel like you are just as good as every other contributing member. In order to make our societies youth feel comfortable and accepted we need to show them that we care and that they matter, because they do!! During stages of adolescence you are trying to find your place and yourself and in order for this to make someone into a better person they need to have an equal say just like any of us do. The fact that our society is controlled by people thinking they are better than someone else because of their age or for any other reason is absurd! An individual is an individual and to be judge for anything besides their character reflects on your own.

  16. It is refreshing to say the least, to hear the views that I share from an adult. It is frustrating being a youth in society, and their are undoubted disadvantages. The way you described the “community” meeting does not suprise me at all. So often does this happen, when issues are brought up about youth, and rarely are actual youth asked about their views on a subject.

    I have been extremely observant throughout my youth, and have noticed this social dysfunction for many years now. You see a a sort of concieted thinking when youths are addressed from multiple statuses, Police, many teachers, managers, and even older co-workers. No matter who the “elder” is, or even how they act, they always trumph the teen. You see this in our society throughout history, and it is time we start breaking this pattern of discarding the youths opinions.

    It is difficult to pose a solution to the ignorance that some community leaders, and “elders” hold towards teens. But with years passing, youth getting older, and an increase of expressed thoughts like this article I find faith that this will pass.

    In the end, I hope that one day that our youths opinion will be viewed as a valued contribution to our always changing society.

  17. I think it is truly sad that at a conference where they wanted to solve the issue of youth violence nobody was willing to listen to the youth. Just because you are older doesn’t necessarily give you authority and just because you are young doesn’t mean your thoughts and opinions don’t matter. I have been in a situation like this where I have had wanted to give input to a matter, but nobody would give me a chance because of my age. That just made me want to sit back and never say anything again. And I imagine that it made the youth who wanted to speak at the town hall meeting feel the same way. It troubles me that adults in that situation one moment said that they need to listen to the youth and then turn right around and contradict their word. That isn’t going to solve anything, it’s just going to make the youth think that they don’t care.

    1. I totally get how you are feeling that way. In fact, I have experienced something even worse. I am 20, but people often think that I not even 18 yet because of how small and young I look. Once I went to the bank to get some information about setting up bank accounts with one of my friend, who is 17 but looks older than me. Every time when I would ask a question, he would answer but his eye contact will go directly to my other friend as if completely ignoring me. Then we he finally found out our ages, his behavior completely changed. This is like an everyday example of how adults will ignore those who look young and reckless. They think that if you are not over 21, then you are not worth listening to.

  18. After reading this, I feel a deep hurt in how people are treating those who will be the future of this world. Children needs to be given a chance to communicate their needs. They need to practice their abilities to speak their minds from an early age, so they can become even greater leaders of the future. Adults should not deny a teen’s right to speak just because they think that they have lived longer so they know better. This is obviously not always the case, a child could definitely be smarter than an adult. There are plenty of young geniuses who’s made their mark in the math and science fields; as well as great young talents who’s overwhelmed the world with their gifts. No one can deny of their accomplishments, yet every one still often holds on to the belief that as someone ages, they get more experience thus they are better at things. We must forget about such assumptions and give every person, no matter gender or age, the right to speak up for themselves.

    1. You are definitely right that it is a mistreatment onto the youth population. They needs to feel respected and apart of their communities if they are expected to really take a deep involvement or interest in it. By exercising these skills at a young age they will broaden and thicken their understanding towards their environment and how to make it function smoothly. Also, as you stated, it is wrong to deny the their chance to speak, I think, also because they represent their generation and age group. If we don’t listen to their opinions then we will never truly understand the current youth community.

    2. “Age is but a number” is a saying that speaks the truth. Age doesn’t define your intelligence and when adults believe that, they are solely mistaken. Yes, in some cases there is more wisdom that children can learnt through adults, but children in this era are only becoming more intelligent with the better education and parents need to realize that their children are going to grow up and incorporate things they have been taught from their parents. If they are taught that “children are wrong” and “adults are right”, that isn’t (in my opinion) the best message to be preaching since kids are so smart now a days and deserve to have their thoughts/ideas heard as well.

      1. It is very true. I have known some very intelligent and bright young people, disregarded because of their age, there neighborhood, and skin color – three strikes your out, right? Well not in my book. I try to encourage and build they young up. They are our world’s future after all.

  19. Children definitely need to be listened to at an early age for the society to maintain stability. Children are part of the future that we need to help them create views of what should be socially expectable. Not listening to them can create them to have views that are not expectable in the society. It will be a repeating habit for generations to not listen to the youth that will tend to create more and more unacceptable views for a society. So it is essential for people to start listening to what children say, because that is what they think and telling them that what they say is right or wrong must be done.

  20. You speak truth of course, but can’t we do more aside from just listening? We live in an age of the electric eye, the news highlights the horrors if nothing else right? I myself live outside of this world of violence, mostly, it is a fable spoken though the grape vine, something I hear from friends of friends, or from the kids in school, I hardly know what of it is truth or tale. Assuming it is all true though, violence, gangs, guns, drugs, rape, prostitution, at home or in public, do we really need to listen to the kids to understand them? Can we really not see the problem without being told? The meeting of the adults and their flappy mouths accomplished nothing, if the teens flapped as well we might have learned more, but it still would accomplish little. It is of course not likely that we can simply remove them from their environments, pick them from the gutter, move out of the ghetto, divide them from the bullies in school or suggest they quit the gang, but I’m sure there’s plenty we can offer them. That being said, I should add ahead of time, I have no idea what those offerings could be unfortunately. Perhaps, since it’s a meeting of adults, we can encourage parents to talk to their kids and find their own solutions, perhaps we can form town programs to help crack down on the shady adults or other mischievous teens that are recruiting the newbies into such a world, or perhaps we can even begin to petition or vote for extra funding for police forces. As I said, I don’t know this darker world personally, but if whether we offer the young ones a voice or not, do we not still have our own methods in which we can help, as adults?

  21. I think it is very important for children to have a voice. It helps to have a well-rounded understanding of the community as a whole. Also, by giving children a chance to speak their ideas, it aids them in improving their communication skills. Along with that, the children are the future of the community. They will one day be the adults of that environment, so their opinions should be valued.

    1. I feel the same about the topic. This was much like the point I was trying to make about being involved with community decisions at a young age. That way by the time we are adults, like you said our skills in communications and excision making will be greatly improved. The youth community will be able to speak their voice and have an impact in their society.

    2. It is important to acknowledge that our generation is the future, which is kind of a scary thought. We don’t seem nearly as mature as previous generations because we aren’t taken seriously when we attempt to be heard. We need our communication skills to be improved and the only way that can happen is if we are critiqued and the only way for that is if we are ACTUALLY heard by adults. Their critiques only impact the way we will run society in the future and that’s a huge deal.

  22. I find it ironic that an event that centers around helping the youth and ensuring that the violence and hardships that they have to endure in many situations includes the actual ignoring of said children. It would seem that most of the minds behind this movement have focused on the movement itself instead of the idea behind the movement.

    This isn’t too uncommon, honestly. The larger a movement becomes, the less focused it becomes. Just look at most Anime conventions. I’m sure there was once a time when they were just that. Anime conventions. But now they’re basically conventions for just about everything under internet sun. Not saying that is a bad thing, but in cases like the one you mentioned, it is.

    So how can we fix this? I have no idea. I suppose just keep on trying what that odd one out did at the convention Bonniejean mentioned. Try and nudge people outside of the box. People will eventually catch on. Hopefully.

  23. I think that the panel assembled at the “town meeting” is a very good example of one of the biggest issues that young people face. They are always being told what to do. We start with our parents constructing our whole lives and telling us where to go, what to do, everything. Then we enter school and there is a whole other set of standards and rules we have to adhere to. Society tells children to be obedient, and to be seen and not heard. I think I have an amazing father but when we were younger we were often told that we had to listen and follow rules because that’s what kids do. Parents pay the bills, buy the food, drive us places so we owe them unquestioning obedience. It wasn’t until I got older that we could ask why a punishment was being given or the reason for certain restrictions. I think children and young adults feel this smothering in many aspects of their lives. We wonder why kids do what they do. Why is there teen violence? Why do adolescents use drugs and alcohol? But if we don’t want to hear what they have to say then how can we possibly expect to understand their world?

    1. Sarah, you present a lot of compelling points here that I fully agree with. I think, as you’re saying, because of this it is important to allow our youth to feel included in our society from a young age, as it will set the stage for decisions and issues they will have to face as adults in their future lives. As children, we learn that it is our parents assuming all the responsibility, which should more in terms be a group effort or a way for parents to show kids how the real world works and responsibilities they will one day take on as well. As you said, we wonder why kids act in such ways they do, yet we tend not to really listen to try to understand their lives. Perhaps a solution to this would be to more incorporate the lives of the youth with the rest of the societies needs instead of considering the two in separate groups, this way we are not only learning about stressing issues in the young community, but they are learning of more pressing issues in the rest of their society as well.

  24. I believe that children at such a small age start absorbing so much information that we don’t realize it. Everything around them affects them in all sorts of ways, but mainly emotionally. That’s why everything we teach them should always be positive. Children shouldn’t see there parents fighting or arguing because that brings them up in an atmosphere that is pure negative. If your children grow up in an atmosphere of pure violence then that will be the way that they will end up being as they are growing. They will be very violent because that is the only thing that they grew up seeing and knowing. So please start showing your children love and affection. Things need to be done in order for this world to become a better place. So start taking action on showing not telling your children how they should be. Show by example!!!!

    1. Dulce, I completely understand what you’re saying here. As we’ve learned over the course of this class, children develop and learn a lot from a young age. Because of this, it is wrong to demising their spirits because it can effect their outlook on life later. In relations to this article, to invite the young people to speak freely at a community meaning and not really give them a change to speak might effect them emotionally, thus making them feel like they don’t actually have a say and then influence them to not want to participate. It’s giving off the wrong message like this that our society has to be careful about when dealing with it’s youth.

  25. I think it’s important to remember, especially in situations like this, that the current youth of America are those that will be making the decisions of the future. Because of this, I find it pretty ironic that the panelists would hold a council meeting to stress the cruciality of such an issue only to ignore their audience of their opinions and comments. The meeting, in many ways, was intended to encourage young people to feel welcome and active in their communities. However, I fear that after their questions remained unanswered and they didn’t really get a chance to be heard, most of them would feel discouraged. If you’re not willing to hear from your young community then you’re leaving out a significant amount of your population. I think it is really important to involve the youth community in such meetings and decision making processes because I believe that the more they are apart of our community decisions at a young age, the better and more comfortable they’ll be at making decisions for future generations.

  26. That is sick to have a community meeting and not even listen to the community. I guess they had a set agenda and did not want to be interrupted. Children, teens, and young adults are the future of society and so their options and worries should be answered. I received a ticket at cod and was told I had to submit documents showing my parking was a mistake and that it would be judged by teachers and fellow students. I felt a little bit of relief knowing that someone of my level would hear my voice and maybe understand. When people feel superior they only accept those at their level in higher. Not realizing that it is the people under the, that gives them their power.

  27. I am only 17 and have experienced this type of discrimination first hand. Yes—I would consider this discrimination, social inequality, and a product of rank-ism. I joined a new soccer team a year ago and when the city declined us a practice field for no legitimate reason, my team and I went to a town meeting in order to fight for ourselves. It was not only about obtaining a practice field, but showing these community leaders what soccer provided for us and fighting for the youth. It was about showing these leaders that the youth do have a voice and proving there is more to teenagers than a person may stereotype. The board seemed to think they could just talk around us and ignore all of our suggestions and questions even though we were more than wiling to compromise with them. I have seen this happen too many times, the youth get pushed around simply because our age difference makes us inferior to the adult world. The ideas of the youth are pushed aside because in our society the youth rank lower than anyone else. The voice of the youth is powerful and it’s so great to hear an adult voice their opinion about its positive potentials!

    1. I believe it is social inequality and a class of rankism as well because we as the younger generation are viewed as “naive” and “irresponsible” because we are just given that label when it doesn’t apply to all of us. They say to respect the elder, but really, where is the respect for the youth? WE are the future of this society so shouldn’t they be extremely concerned with our views considering that? Being heard shouldn’t be a “privilege” once you reach the age of “adulthood”, it should always apply to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, etc.

  28. My children tell me all the time “you aren’t listening to me”. I have to remember that they have a voice and opinion too even though I may not agree with what they are saying. But I do owe them that much respect to listen and listen tentatively. So now when they are talking to me, I make sure that whatever I am doing at the time, that I stop, look them in the eyes and listen carefully. This is teaches them alot of things they can take into their adulthood.

    1. This is probably the best thing ANY parent can do. When we receive eye contact we understand that you are listening attentively and it’s also just a sign of respect. Parents need to know that if they don’t listen to their kids, they are teaching them that it is okay to do that and they may do the same to their kids. I believe this is the best comment because people need to know that it is common for parents to just tune out their kids when it isn’t something they want to hear, but engaging in conversation is more important regardless.

  29. Coming from someone that works with kids for a living while I am finishing school, this deeply saddens me. Kids and the younger generation have a voice and it is imperative that their voice be heard and that they know they have an outlet to voice their opinion as well as understand that they are being heard. this is absolutely paramount to the development of children and young adults. If no one listens to the future of our world, it can be very detrimental therefore effecting the future of not only the generation but also our society as a whole as this can create an array of problems when children and young adults feel as if they are not being heard or do not have a voice. we need to keep in mind that this is the future of our country and world and treat them as we would expect people to treat us.

  30. It is crazy to think that we live in a society where freedom of speech is in place, however, children/teens are continually shut out and not LISTENED to. I experienced this as well, like any other child, with my dad specifically though and still do. I understand that he wants the best for me and thinks the saying, “daddy knows best” still implies. I’m not saying it doesn’t, but being eighteen, I feel I am able to voice my own opinion and follow through with it rather than having my dad tell what is right/wrong. My mom understands me and listens to what I have to say and understands how important my perspective is, so I feel that all parents need to be this way. We deserve to be listened to because our opinions are valid and can be really helpful like any other person’s.

  31. When the youth are left unheard, they either find other ways to communicate through social media, or remain unheard and keep bottling it up inside until one day they burst out. Many youngsters are way ahead of their age, and can keep a conversation alive with a person really smart and twice their age. Most adults do the mistake of treating youngsters as children, and then they remain childish till they’re hit in the face with responsibilities and the reality of life. If adults treat youngsters as some one who’s their age, it helps them think like an adult at times when needed to at a young age. Many youngsters have questions about life, don’t give them false answers, tell them the truth and teach them to deal with reality or deal with when they’re 16 and crying over something like finding out Santa is fictional.

  32. I totally get how you are feeling that way. In fact, I have experienced something even worse. I am 20, but people often think that I am not even 18 yet because of how small and young I look. Once I went to the bank to get some information about setting up bank accounts with one of my friends, who is 17 but looks older than me. Every time when I would ask a question, he would answer but his eye contact will go directly to my friend as if completely ignoring me. When he finally found out our ages, his behavior completely changed. This is like an everyday example of how adults will ignore those who look young and reckless. They think that if you are not over 21, then you are not worth listening to.

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