If the United States is to be the country our forefathers intended it is essential that our nation’s young people be given equal opportunity, respect and rights under law. Without that, many of them will be unable to reach their untold potential. Unfortunately, decision makers place more emphasis on feel-good solutions to exaggerated youth problems than they do on respecting the rights of young Americans. Compounded by a media that portrays an inaccurate and negative depiction of young people many Americans believe that today’s generation of young people is far worse than they actually are. The result is often very disappointing. In the past year we’ve seen new youth curfew laws, misguided support for corporal punishment, a rash of efforts to censor what students can say, see, hear and play and several particularly troublesome and draconian proposals for controlling the lives of youth.

So do we just bury our heads in our hands and cry ourselves to sleep over the injustice in this world? No! We fight back! Join the movement and help us by filling out the enclosed commitment form or visit http://www.youthrights.org/donate and support our efforts today!

The National Youth Rights Association has, for over a decade, existed to ensure that young people have the opportunity to participate as full members in the greatest society on Earth. Thanks to our members, volunteers and generous supporters we have had more impact in the past year than ever before. With each success comes a reminder of all there is left to do.

Our motto is “Live Free, Start Young” and it is not just a nifty catch phrase. Practice makes perfect and practice takes time. In order to guarantee that future generations “live free” it is imperative that they are able to “start young.” The desire to “live free” is in our nature, endowed by our creator, but like any other skill to be practiced it is helpful to have support.

NYRA serves as a library to students of all ages looking to research, learn and write about youth rights issues. We operate a virtual policy think tank constantly examining youth policy from the drinking age to student rights. We teach and train young people themselves how to use their voice to effectively fight for improved rights, respect and opportunity. We amplify that voice by broadcasting it over traditional and new media. We encourage policymakers to take youth seriously and to reconsider solutions that are based on public relations instead of sound evidence. In order to make sure that we’re continually able to provide these services nationally and at a professional level we depend on generous supporters like you.

Help us continue to stand up for youth! http://www.youthrights.org/donate

Earlier this year, after hearing from over a hundred NYRA supporters and reviewing our comprehensive research on youth curfews, the San Juan Capistrano City Council voted against a stricter curfew. The difference between San Juan Capistrano and the many other communities who introduce and then pass new curfew laws? NYRA. Our involvement turned the tide against yet another discriminatory curfew law.

Serious discussions about youth policy issues rarely include youth. When a New Jersey police chief recently made the misguided suggestion that parents spy on their children and erode the bonds of familial trust he wasn’t expecting any organized opposition. Thanks to NYRA’s issue expertise and media savvy he found himself having to defend his position against NYRA President Jeffrey Nadel on national television. We were able to stand up against the chief’s scheme this time, but similar proposals are being floated around the country and we need to be ready for them.

When the Giant Supermarket in Bowie, Maryland implementing a new policy banning youth from their stores they didn’t expect any pushback. Fortunately, NYRA has a history of success combating this sort of arbitrary age discrimination. Board member and NYRA-DC chapter leader Nigel Jones, backed by an increasingly powerful national movement was able to easily convince Giant to reverse that policy. Nigel was able to defeat the Giant this time, but stores and malls around the country are implementing anti-youth policies and it is up to us to fight back.

Support our work! Sign the enclosed form or visit http://www.youthrights.org/donate today.

In the past year NYRA has partnered with many great organizations and seen those partnerships result in some of our greatest victories to date. The Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth made headlines last month for successful online advocacy efforts that led to the closings of several abusive behavior modification programs. NYRA board members and supporters were actively involved in this campaign, working closely with CAFETY (an organization that began as a program of NYRA). On April 6th of this year, following intense lobbying by the members of the Coalition Against School Paddling (a coalition led by NYRA), the Governor of New Mexico signed into law a bill that banned the barbaric practice of corporal punishment in New Mexico public schools – freeing hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren from the threat of state-sanctioned violence. These are huge victories but the celebration must wait as there are still thousands of kids in hundreds of abusive programs and 19 states that continue to allow corporal punishment in public schools.

When politicians propose ridiculous and draconian measures to control youth – like spying on their Facebook accounts or regularly searching their rooms the press turns to us to provide the balanced counterpoint. This year alone NYRA has been approached by dozens of potential partner organizations, our members have visited both halls of congress, the U.S. Departments of State and Education, the United Nations (twice) and the White House (twice). Youth rights is no longer a fringe movement – it’s in the mainstream. Now is the time to ramp up our efforts and use our newfound influence, build on our successes and organizational strength and begin to make America the country that it was intended to be. We hope we can count on you as we forge ahead.

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