When Do Youth Advocate for Themselves?

I’m continuing my “guerrilla” research for the forthcoming Youth ? Handbook – replace ? with Voice, Engagement, or Action. Its looking pretty cool, but I’m still seeing the same trend emerge that first made me want to start Freechild. While its true that youth are in the focus of the camera, with so many people saying “do this” and “do that” for, by, and to youth, so few youth are actually holding the camera. This means that they are doing the examination, focusing the lenses, calling attention to the issues, and raising awareness of the challenges they and their communities face. There are SO MANY WAYS to do this, and I guess that doing The Freechild Project website for the last five years has made me complacent with the situation.

But the problem is that here in Washington there is very little authentic youth engagement in social change. Authentic meaning top-rung, best-of efforts to actually develop and sustain youth/adult partnerships. To actually integrate youth throughout our communities. To actually share power and responsibility for our communities. For the issues youth face, and for the issues we all face.

The anti-war movement protesters complain about the lack of youth involvement – but what are they doing to involve youth? The school reformers complain about the lack of student achievement, but what are they doing to involve students? The politicians, the police, the librarians, the youth workers… the list is so long. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO INVOLVE YOUTH?!? I’m just not sure anymore; it seems like there is a different kind of work needed right here, right now.

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