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Getting youth to want youth rights

Written by Stefan Muller Dec 26, 2005

We talk all the time about recruiting, but we rarely discuss how to go about doing that. Here’s something I’ve noticed that might make a difference: I’ve found just from talking to friends that 90% of people have never even thought about lowering the voting age (I use voting age simply because I believe it’s the most important cause.) Once you tell them, a great number of teens actually think that the voting age should stay where it is. My speculation on this is that some teens think that saying teens are immature makes them seem more mature and knowledgeable. I’ve seen this numerous times in my school newspaper where reporters used ageist sentiments to make their articles seem more “adult” or whatever.

My point is that no group in history has ever been given more civil rights or will ever be given civil rights until they want them. The Youth Rights movement is no exception. Unless a vast majority of teens desperately want the right to vote (or drive, or get student rights, etc.), nothing will ever happen.

How do we solve this? If you’re in school, talk to friends, acquaintances, strangers, enemies, everybody. Let them know how you feel, let them know your reasons, and until proven otherwise, assume you’re trying to win over an opponent rather than to convince somebody who already agrees with you to join NYRA. Put up posters. Write an article for your school newspaper (I’m gonna do that for the next issue after break.) Start a club. If you can get it as far as they did in Berkely and have a debate, that’s terrific. Let’s make sure all youth know that they deserve rights and that it isn’t childlike or immature to think that way. Then we get them to start fighting, they join NYRA, we get more money to bring our message further, and the cycle has begun and NYRA will expand into a strong organization.

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