The election from a teen perspective

If politicians want to engage teens, they need to address relevant issues

The election from a teen perspective

Driving to school, it is hard not to miss the signs that line the road. Signs pasted with headshots and words underneath that say vote for so and so. We see lawn posters  for Micheal de Jong, Sukhi Dhami, Moe Gill, Stephen O’Shea, Kerry-Lynn Osbourne and Paul Redekopp. But what do they represent?

As teens we are beginning to be asked what we think of all this political stuff. Surveying around I found two out of 10 teens ages 16 to 17 who care about the election. I have come to the conclusion that these people aren’t necessarily concerned with the ongoing election, because it doesn’t concern them. If we can’t vote, then we no longer have interest in the political issues that surround us. That being said, those two teens who I interviewed said they cared a lot because they have jobs and they realized that outcome of this election could affect them directly.

When answering a phone call recently from a representative of a candidate, they right away asked my age. Discovering that I am not yet able to vote, they no longer had interest in telling me about the person running. Now I get that the whole point is to inform people who can vote, or they probably assume you don’t care, but as teens should we not also be informed, especially since I really did have some questions? We are the future voters. Why should we only be informed about what’s happing in our province when we turn a certain age?

Only four out of 10 students who are currently in Grade 12 and 18 years old, said they cared about the election and would research more into whom they would vote for. This was so mind-boggling to me because more than half of these kids just expect to vote for whomever their parents want. At what point do we make decisions for ourselves? How long do we plan on relying on our parents without know what or who we’re putting our votes towards?

Interested by these stats, I took it further. I asked teens what age they thought they would actually research and start to look more into what these candidates stood for, rather than depending on their parents’ opinion. The consensus was at ages 20 through 22. As a teen myself I get it. We’re busy, not really interested and don’t really think it will matter. But the reality is we need to be informed, – we can’t vote blindly.

The real question is, what do these politicians have to offer teens? If they want to get our votes, politicians need to address issues that concern youth in order to trigger teen interest. Things like cell phone bills, driving restrictions, minimum wage, and the cost of education, classroom size, and proper remuneration for teachers so that they aren’t getting burnt out carrying a second job. These are the things which will get teens to vote. Bottom line is if we know it benefits us, and we know you actually care about our concerns we have no problem casting a ballot.

As teens we want someone who speaks and addresses the concerns of all ages.

Paige Gueldner has grown up in Abbotsford, and currently attends MEI. She has had numerous articles published in the school newspaper “The Talon,” Paige is actively involved in her community and has organized events including a fundraiser for International Justice mission.

Watch for her next blog in coming weeks.