Fun fact about the US and youth involvement! Since the United States is not a signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child there is no legal precedent for youth involvement here!
Article 12 of the CDC states:
- Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
- For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
In response to that call for action more than 100 nations around the world have instituted a variety of measures to ensure youth involvement. These include the establishment of youth secretatiates, youth ombudspeople, youth liasions, youth councils, and many, many other systemic efforts to promote youth voice. Powerful! There are legitimate concerns about Article 12, and those shouldn’t be dismissed; however, it does success in providing a starting point for the conversation, which is wholly missing in U.S. policy today.
So the U.S. is struggling to find its own way to ensure youth involvement. The lobbyists in D.C. are working on behalf of dozens of organizations to challenge the Obama administration to involve youth, and there are plenty of efforts to systematize youth involvement that are in effect right now. However, it seems we’re doing this devoid of U.N. examples, without role models, nothing. All the coordination in Europe, all the expertise in Canada and all the collaboration in Micronesian countries seem to do nothing to overtly inform the attempts in the U.S. Instead, anything that comes from any of this advocacy is going to happen because of an authentic rush from the ground up.
That adds to the excitement in a sense- although it continues to remind me of the disappointing isolationism this country has sunk into over the last 8 years. We need to rise above our sometimes shallow perspectives and see the paths that have been made by other countries, and from there move forward. We need to pay attention to our international youth involvement role models.
Note: This morning I’m involved in a meeting with the Government of Alberta Youth Secretariat, and then this afternoon I’m flying to Washington, D.C. for the inaugaration and a conference on youth involvement in systems of care. I love connecting the dots, and will share more later.