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Meet NYRA

Written by Katrina Moncure Feb 09, 2008

The following is a transcript of this video.

Politicians and public interest groups are always looking to protect youth. They have a long list of so-called bad guys that they believe are a danger to young people. Even if in all this, they ignore the very many actual dangers youth face every day. Maybe there are things they find much more important than the well-being of young citizens. But then, who’s going to help young people? Who really cares about them? I’ll tell you who.

That’s us! We’re the National Youth Rights Association, or NYRA for short. I’m Katrina Moncure, secretary of NYRA and board member. There I am holding my cat, Midnight.

Anyway, NYRA has many goals. We want to lower the voting age to 16. We want to lower the drinking age to 18. We want all youth curfew laws abolished. Those are our major goals, but we have lots of others, too.

How do we work toward the youth friendly world we envision? Sometimes it’s a rally. Sometimes it’s just little ways of raising awareness. Sometimes it’s media appearances. Sometimes it’s gathering local supporters and having a chapter meeting. Sometimes it’s meeting with the elected officials themselves. Sometimes it’s a table with information at an event. Sometimes it’s giving rousing speeches. And underneat it all, we’re an all-around great bunch!

We’ve done some great work! Stefan Muller successfully battled a Halloween curfew in his home town. Adam King campaigned tirelessly to get his school board to create a position for a student representative. Zack Feinberg of New Jersey is currently battling his school because they want to randomly drug test all students. Our Berkeley, CA chapter ralled relentlessly to get the voting age lowered to 16 in their town. Powerful brother-sister duo Alex and Natasha Hull-Richter of Orange County, CA have drummed support for a lower voting age in their local community and among politicians. Jason Kende and Ana Hevesi of New York City have been there to counter whatever anti-youth laws the city council considers, whether a curfew or a student cell phone ban. Fredrick Mutooni and his chapter in Passaic County, NJ have prevented a youth curfew ordinance in their area, as well as raising awareness at events. Our Washington DC chapter has worked against curfew extensions and nightclub bans, and we’ve done lots of good old fashioned tabling.

Our headquarters is a nice little office in Washington, DC. It is the workplace of our benevolent executive director, Alex Koroknay-Palicz. Alex does it all! He has appeared on television supporting us many times, as well as on radio shows. He writes the annual report every year, and gives an inspiring speech at the annual meeting. But he’s not without his fun side, of course!

Wait. Why do we do all this? Don’t youth have rights? Aren’t restrictions for their protection?

Robert Bertoniere served in the US army in Afghanistan, having enlisted and risked his life to defend the nation he loves. But not long after he came home, he was cited for underage drinking.

Dozens of teenagers have been killed in abusive unregulated behavior modification facilities around the country, having been beaten, starved, raped, overexhausted, and left without proper medical care. This would not happen to adults because of the constitutional amendments against cruel and unusual punishment and conviction without a trial, but because they are not old enough to vote, society is okay with them suffering horrible deaths or, if they survived, being traumatized for life.

Young peoples’ first amendment rights are trampled constantly, whether from their student newspapers being censored by principals or parents forcing their kids to practice a certain religion.

Legislators may force schools and libraries to prevent anyone under 18 from accessing any social networking site, message boards, chat rooms, instant messengers, or any other similar interactive site. Many kids learn a lot of valuable information from these online sources, as well as the kids from abusive families finding solace in their online friends. But because of the extremely tiny fraction of a percent of young internet users who have met with predators this way, legislators feel kids should protected from the great resources of the internet.

We see blatantly discriminatory signs from a government group saying “Don’t Serve Teens” plastered all over, but such open prejudice, prejudice that dehumanizes young people far more than protects, is considered perfectly okay in our society.

Teens are more and more barred from situations where they interact with adults other than parents or teachers. So the only adults they can associate with are those in a position of power over them. People think this protects them somehow, but really it keeps them uninformed of what the adult world is like, at a time in their lives when they must make career decisions. So we’re left with young adults who have no idea what they’re doing in life, and it may take them several years to adjust. But this extended adjustment gets blamed not on their isolation as teenagers, but just yields junk science claiming this means their brains are not developed yet.

These constant violations of human dignity against youth do not come without terrible consequences. What is the future of America when we so fervently teach young people that freedom is a bad thing that must be sacrificed for safety? That the rights the country was founded on are unimportant? That it is better to expect the government or other body to protect you from all the bad things in life rather than learning to protect yourself? How can you sleep at night knowing that this is how the future voters of our great nation are being trained?

Who is going to turn the tide? Who is going to resist this outright assault on the next generation? Who is going to stand up and tell everybody that this is not right and it must be stopped?

That someone is us.

Support NYRA and you support an end to all the horrible injustices against young people. Want to help? That’s easy. Just visit us at www.youthrights.org and join. Visit our active forums full of fellow youth rights supporters. Read our blog. Buy a button, bumper sticker, t-shirt, or other items from our merch store. Make a generous tax-deductible donation. And, of course, start a local chapter in your area!

Join our politically and culturally diverse membership, make great friends, and be a part of movement that will truly improve the lives of young people more than any oppressive protections could ever hope to do. If you genuinely care about the well-being of youth, then we’re the organization for you!

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