Historically, teenagers have been told that their ideas have no merit, or that their opinions and stances are too dramatic and not fully developed because of their young age. This attitude has been challenged thanks to groups of teenage activists who are taking a stand to surpass adults who hold the microphone regarding large social issues. The growth of the internet and the rapid ways in which ideas can be shared around the globe have contributed to today’s teenagers being able to reach a larger audience; In doing so, these teens are furthering their chances of convincing the greater population that young doesn’t mean ignorant.
Take, for example, Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist who has reached fame and notoriety for both her young age and her stance on climate change regulation. On Wednesday, Sept. 18, Thunberg addressed the United States Congress and compared the regulations Sweden has to the U.S.’s own. She then chastised President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris Agreement, an agreement within the United Nations that works for climate change prevention and mitigation. CNN reports that Thunberg takes her role as an advocate so seriously that to travel to the U.S., she took a zero-emissions sailboat from Sweden rather than flying in order to reduce carbon emissions.
Thunberg is just one case of a teenager who has made their voice known in recent years; after the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida, the media watched as many students that experienced this horrific event came forward to tell their stories and advocate for stronger gun regulation laws and appeals. After being told for generations that teenagers are secondary citizens to adults and that their changing brains result in unstable ideas and poor judgment, a generation of youths have emerged who are fed up with being belittled and reduced simply to children who are unable to think for themselves or form their own ideas.
Teenagers are some of our most vital assets when it comes to activism and advocacy because they are witnessing what it means to be an active member in society for the first time, with fresh eyes, where many adults have become numb to the problems faced in everyday life because of certain political agendas and administrations. Teenagers can use this clear view of the world to help fuel the outrage that is necessary in creating a successful campaign.
Teenagers have the poor reputation for being moody and angry, but that is exactly what is needed to get voices heard, a group of people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds and step up to the plate when they feel like something isn’t working how it should. We all need to take pointers from these growing minds and respect their ideas as they come to fruition about the injustices that we as Americans face, and trust them to take the reins because, at the end of the day, the kids are alright.