Politicians don't care about teenagers or listen to us so it's no wonder we're overwhelmed with apathy
They've slashed our opportunities, raised tuition fees, are changing A-levels despite us disagreeing, ignored us on Brexit and we can't even vote til 18 - here's the real reason why young people aren't interested in what politicians do, say and promise
After the news of the cabinet reshuffling and Braverman’s sacking , I’ve decided to ask what the younger generations genuinely think about all the political occurrences. As a teenager myself, I want to provide an alternative perspective to the already abundant views being expressed online.
Interestingly, the general consensus is absolutely nothing.
Around 84% of teenagers in my Sixth Form, when asked what their thoughts are on Suella Braverman’s sacking or David Camreon’s shock return, claimed that they weren’t really that interested. The others generally remained impartial.
Whilst this indeed depicts them as politically apathetic, it’s unfair to hastily jump to the conclusion that the apathy is simply down to the ‘lazy teenager stereotype’. Actually, it’s because they’re so frequently overlooked in politics.
Young people always appear to be neglected by politicians, and are very rarely addressed in party policies, apart from the one time when Sunak made the controversial decision to scrap A levels, which most teens vociferously object to. This provides a clear explanation for their disillusionment with political parties as their voices are very rarely heard in the political arena.
Instead, they are forced to remain impotent, outside the structures of power. With extremely high tuition fees, high unemployment amongst the youth and weak attempts to tackle climate change, the younger generations’ interests are very rarely taken into account. Many teenagers also opposed Brexit and, despite it being their future at stake, it happened anyway. I’m sure when reflecting on Brexit with the wonders of hindsight, many would argue that we were actually right. Teens cannot vote or even become a member of a political party, so why would it be in their interest to stay on top of current affairs?
A study by British Youth Council shows that 71% of young people don’t feel that political parties and candidates speak directly to young people enough in the lead-up to elections. Not being on the electoral register means that they won’t even get lobbied by politicians. Even though some may post a tweet on social media, or sign a petition, this hardly acts as a megaphone for their voices, and it’ll eventually get drowned out amongst the overload of comments online.
To tackle this widespread disengagement in politics amongst the youth, the younger generations need to stop being excluded from politics, which can only be solved by lowering the voting age. And in order to help those who lack political awareness, a coherent political education needs to be provided in schools across the UK. Students that voluntarily study politics seem to be part of a minority. My A Level Politics class is smaller than any other in in the Sixth Form, with only 10 people studying it in the entire year. By way of contrast there are three Psychology classes, with around 20 students in each.
So, involve the younger generations in politics, grant them enfranchisement and then maybe they will begin to care about the political turmoil that’s going on.