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United States

Message from Writer

Be courageous and write in a way that scares you a little- Holley Gerth

Political Education for Children

March 21, 2016

    Everyday, children hear words like gun control, the Teachers union, and the healthcare system being thrown around everywhere, by teachers and parents alike. As much as they hear these political-infused words, most of the children are too busy to care or don't feel that politics involve them. Most children might feel that politics don't involve them because it's not like there is a politics class that they can take in school, explaining why a law states something or what the difference is between Republican and Democrat. Also, some parents may forget to teach their child about politics because it's not something that comes to mind when you think of an everyday routine. For example, when a parent is buckling their offspring into a car seat and the child asks, "why do I have to sit in this car seat?" it usually doesn't cross a parent's mind to go into detail about the laws that were put into place about it, instead, most parents would just explain that it is to keep their youngster safe. Some parents may not realize, but 71% of children that are raised in a home that openly talks about their opinions on politics will grow to follow their parents opinions (research conducted by Gallup). Politics have to matter to children because they are the future of this world.
    There is a law in Wisconsin that people must be 14-years-old to work at most jobs, but what if someone wanted to work when they were 13? The government also gets to choose what kind of curriculum they teach in schools, like common core, but what if a child didn't want to learn this way? There are countless laws that affect children, and they do not know that there are ways that they can voice their opinion, like writing a formal letter to the political leaders. Do the political leaders think about the young peoples' opinion, when making laws that affect the children?
     That is just one example of how youngsters are often over-looked in the political aspect, also, they may feel that as long as it is not a requirement, like homework, they don't need to care about politics. Considering that colleges are the main source of government classes, young people might find it hard to learn about politics. Children might not understand though, that laws and politics are involved in everyday life, and that laws control a lot of what we do as citizens. They may not even realize how much of politics impacts our lives, like why vehicles have to drive at a certain speed limit. Older scholars and parents can help young children by explaining the basics of politics, or even sharing their own opinions on politics to the younger generation. Other people are not the only source of information though, there is another way that children can find information, through research. The internet is loaded with info of all sorts, debates, articles and even audio recordings are all access ports into the world of politics. Of course, the library is the home of all research, books on all different opinions fill the shelves.
    Now, some people may think, "kids under eighteen can't even vote, so what's the point of learning and caring about politics?" Constance Flanagan (author of Teenage Citizens The Political Theories of the Young) says, "They’re too young to vote but not too young to care."  Although children can't vote, there are other ways they can impact politics, like joining a rally or spreading awareness for a law that concerns them. Also, if a child was to grow up and never learn about politics, what would they do when they reached eighteen and had the right to vote?  Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University conducted a study that showed that, in the 2014 election, 18- to 29-year old voters turnout fell to an all time low, just 19.9 percent of their age group appeared at the voting center to cast their ballot. The Washington Post suggests that this is because of the mistrust and misunderstanding of today's politics by young people. 
    Younger generations aren't exactly taught to care about politics, but if someone were to be brave enough to break the mold, ask for answers, research and read books on politics, it could change the way they see the world, the way we see the world. Now, by just giving out a few answers to wondering children, or explaining the difference between the political parties, we could alter a child's opinion on politics for the better. We need to care about the younger generations of this world, because they're the ones who will be shaping our future.



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