Last week I was invited to take part in the mock general election at Wolfreton School and Sixth Form College as part of their democracy day. Along with representatives from the Labour Party, Green Party and the Lib Dems we were asked to talk for a few minutes on Young People and Democracy. The following is the short presentation I gave:
Young People and Democracy
I feel that young people are not always listened to – especially on issues that affect them directly.
Today’s young people are the decision makers of tomorrow. We must stimulate your interest in democracy, enable your voices to be heard and for you to have a stake in the political process.
It is a myth that young people are not interested in politics.
I know from talking to many young people that you are passionately interested in issues as diverse as crime, anti-social behaviour and bullying, alcohol and drugs, sexual health and teenage pregnancy, youth activities and sport, and reducing the voting age to 16.
But it up to us adults to listen to you, we have to have to make formal politics more relevant and somewhat less boring – and we need to capitalise on the interest shown today. All organisations need to listen more to young people and should be encouraged to ‘youth proof’ their activities wherever possible.
We need to look at how the political parties, Government and Local Councils communicate with young people – How many of you use Facebook?
We need to maximise the use of Facebook but also Twitter, Bebo, My Space and blogs.
We need to improve the opportunities for young people to get involved in politics at a local level, through your school council, through the East Riding Youth Assembly and through emerging community youth councils.
Young people have to feel that someone is listening to them and to their point of view; this will go a long way to enhance their belief in politics. Specifically if young people were able to vote at 16, be able to fully participate in the East Riding Youth Assembly, and have the opportunity to connect with their elected Councillors, MPs and MEPs - then we might just see more engagement of young people in the political process.
(School photo by Paul Harrop)
Link to the East Riding Youth Assembly: ihttp://www.eriding.net/young_people/youth_assembly.shtml
Link to Wolfreton School: