Teens need to use their voices responsibly

Illustration by Kat Mann

By Nydia Ramos, Editor in Chief

When you hear the word “teenager,” what comes to mind? A group of emotional adolescents with faces stuck in phones, perhaps a few kids sitting around a basement vaping and playing Fortnite?

But what about a respectable advocate for social issues? Someone who not only has a strong opinion on societal problems but the solutions to solve them? Teenagers as a whole have always had an unreliable, unresponsible image built up around them. Most teenagers display these attributes as predominant traits. Because of this, when they want to be taken seriously, they don’t know how to go about getting that respect, resulting in their voices falling upon deaf ears time after time.

Teens have a voice in society, a given right by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Every U.S. citizen has the right to freedom of speech, to a free press, to exercise their religion, and to peacefully assemble. Freedom of speech is a right, but being heard is a privilege — one that can only be earned by putting forth a reputation of patience and understanding.  Many teens lack these two attributes. It’s not a matter of disconnection amongst generations. Older generations are willing to hear what Generation Z has to say, if only it’d stop screaming obscenities in their faces. Teenagers are strong willed as well as highly opinionated, which can translate into a desperation that results in impulsive actions.

Teens participate in actions such as rants on social media that are chock-full of careless false accusations and distasteful language, or, on the more aggressive side, they organize or support violent protests or riots. All this gains from the rest of the world is a nasty side eye and a cold shoulder. Teens then feel misunderstood, cultivating an anger towards the rest of society, which then results in more angry shouting and social media rants and riots.

But not all teens are stuck in this cycle of misunderstanding and hatred. Some rise above to show the rest that there is indeed a way to be heard.

On March 24, 2018, at Indian Trail High School & Academy, a walkout in honor of the March For Our Lives movement was held. It was completely led and organized by students. The event was calm-mannered, planned, and well-executed. Students who rallied peacefully marched out of school with posters in hands and wristbands showing their message. Leaders of the group delivered a speech to convey the reason they were gathered there and what they were fighting for.

It was powerful, and it was heard.

It was done in such a way that earned the respect of staff, administration, news media and more. This is a perfect example of teens using their voices to the best of their ability.

Younger generations have always had so much to say. The problem is they don’t know how to say it. Teens, and everyone else, need to learn to be respectful and peaceful when wanting to make a change. If everyone starts shouting over each other, not a single soul will be heard. Everyone has a voice, and everyone has a choice on how to use it. If teens want to see the changes they crave so badly, they must exercise their voices wisely.