My school’s youth rights club recently distributed a survey in history classes to see where students currently stand on various youth rights issues. We ended up getting back 742 responses, approximately half the school. First, we attempted to recreate a recently published survey that showed that many more students consider themselves capable of voting than consider others their age capable of voting. Our results definitely confirmed this. 60% of students said they were capable of voting, but only 25% trusted must high school students to vote.
Another interesting result was that students actually bought into the voting age as something other than arbitrary. 50% of 14-year-olds, 51% of 15-year-olds, 55% of 16-year-olds, 64% of 17-year-olds and 89% of 18-year-olds considered themselves capable of voting.
Surprisingly, the most acceptable age restriction to students who responded was the driving age (70%), followed by dress codes (50%). Least acceptable were restrictions on free speech further than those applied to adults (12%). 31% believed that schools should require mandatory community service, 25% believed that curfews can be justified, 27% believed random drug testing should be allowed on students and 29% for random locker checks. 96% of students believe that schools should provide education on current events.
All in all, I was impressed by the results. Respondants in general didn’t seem to consider ageist restrictions justified, and many gave youth rights-friendly answers. I was especially impressed with the results for students’ free speech and privacy rights, which were very important to people who answered the survey. However, to some extent, students surveyed did believe what they hear about themselves and their peers in terms of voting ability.
Following this, on May 1, we invited Alex Koroknay-Palicz to lead three discussions at the school on curfews, voting age and student rights. A number of students came during their lunch periods and one teacher brought a government class to two of the discussions. While it was a fairly small group, everyone was very involved and interested and the discussion was extremely active. More details and photos are here: http://www.youthrights.org/forums/showthread.php?t=11030&page=2