Many well-meaning adults who advocate for youth engagement too often consider only those elements of the younger population with which they are familiar. This is comfortable and convenient for adults, but it doesn’t fully address realities regarding young people today.
Identifying aspects of youth engagement as convenient or inconvenient doesn’t convey a value judgment; it simply acknowledges an existing condition.
Convenient Youth Engagement happens whenever adults know who is going to be engaged, what is going to happen, where and when it will happen, and what the outcomes will be. Adults might not have written the whole script for youth engagement, but what’s going to be said is no surprise to them.
Inconvenient Youth Engagement takes place when young people become engaged in ways that aren’t predictable. They share ideas, shout out thoughts, take action or critique harshly. They do things that adults don’t know, understand, approve of or otherwise predict.
The difference between these two situations depends on context, including location, position and circumstance. A young person’s race, socio-economic status, gender, educational attainment or other characteristics frequently determines how engagement is perceived. A particular instance of youth engagement may be heard or ignored, approved or disapproved, praised or penalized by older adults.
- Youth/Adult Partnerships
- Youth and Adults
- Youth, Parents, Parenting and Families
- Facing Adultism by Adam Fletcher
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can help improve adult perceptions of youth in your community or organization, contact us.