Being a young’un means that sometimes people don’t want to listen to what we have to say. Rosie thinks this is rubbish, and explores how our two cents are actually worth a whole lot more than two cents.
We end up with unsatisfied young people who feel angry, invisible and like they are disappointing those they look up to.
The best example of why people should be given a say on issues that matter to them comes from an experience I had when I was about 6. Let me set the scene…
Monday night 6pm
[Parents give me dinner. It’s some sort of casserole and the tomato makes it taste fishy to me.]
ME: Dad I don’t want this it’s too fishy
DAD: There’s no fish in it, eat your food.
ME: But I don’t like it.
DAD: You’ve never said you don’t like tomato before. You have to tell me before it’s cooked that you don’t like it.
[I throw my dinner out the window and cry]
[DAD also cries - I guess it was a crappy day at the office or something].
Simple solution: Dad could have asked me if I was OK with casserole before he started making it (he didn’t have to go ALL OUT and ask what I actually wanted as this would likely have resulted in the consumption of some kind of rainbow cereal). Asking for feedback afterwards is not really having a say, as often by this stage there’s no room for change (you can’t un-cook a casserole).
My dad isn’t the only one
This happens all too often; people who are not involved in the outcome of a situation make decisions about what the outcome should be. You see it in classrooms with teachers deciding how to run lessons, you see it in government with politicians making policy decisions about P-platers, and even at home when parents decide when and how their children interact with others, or what they wear.
We end up with unsatisfied young people who feel angry, invisible and like they are disappointing those they look up to. We end up with angry parents, teachers and policy makers. And we end up with a massive loss of trust and respect in the relationships between these different groups of people.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Many organizations, government bodies, and even some parents have started to realize that by working alongside young people, they might not only reach an appropriate outcome, but also come up with new opportunities, build new skills, and establish trust and respect in these relationships.
Why is having your say a good thing?
Have you ever had a crappy experience at a doctor? Been disappointed with your local government? Had a tutor or lecturer at Uni that you felt taught you more about napping than anything else? It might be past the point of change for you (you can’t un-learn a course anymore than you can un-cook aforementioned casserole), but you can feed into making the doctor/government/tutor experience better for the next wave of young peeps.
How do I share my two cents?
There are loads of simple ways you can have your say. Start by identifying something you’d like to see changed, and then explore the avenues available to you:
- Take university feedback forms at the end of semester seriously.
- Write to your MP about issues that concern you. If you don’t hear back, call them and ask for a meeting.
- Get involved with alumni committees from your school/uni and provide the student perspective.
- Talk to your local health/government groups about their youth panels (most of them have a youth council)
- Approach organisations you like and find out if they have a group you can join.
- Get in touch with campaigning groups like GetUp and Do Something Near You. Even if you’re not in major cities there are often online activities you can do.