According to a recent report about today's teenagers, far from being antisocial and difficult to manage monsters, are actually highly concerned with social issues, keen to volunteer, and take fewer illicit substances than previous generations. This had led to them being labelled "Generation C" (C for citizen). Despite its cheesiness, Generation C makes a welcome change.
Their portrayal is probably, to some extent, the fault of the generation of millennials. When young journalists are given the opportunity to share their voices, it's usually in the context of edgy pieces about misbehavior. In this BuzzFeed-driven journalistic climate, there's very little space for young people interested in writing about education and poverty issues in any depth; and yet, these are just the things that today's kids care about. It's time someone catered to them.
My first real political engagement came late, during the 2011-12 (in my early-twenties) student protests, even then I was struck by how much more passionate the 14 to 16 year olds who marched alongside us seemed to be. At their age I certainly wouldn't have had the impetus to bother with things outside my own circle of friends all having fun. Now, it looks as though this generation of young people may be the first to be poorer than their predecessors. And 84% of them say they are planning to vote. They are putting me to shame and are certainly motivated.
Young people in the UK are taught depressingly little about our political system and how it works. For instance, an alarmingly high number of people I meet seem to think we have proportional representation (which we do not), and yet many of them care deeply about the policies this government is making and plan to participate in the next election. Those in power and those in opposition alike would do well to engage with them.
Another example comes from a newspaper report of a young man who has set up his own social enterprise. He mentioned a teenage girl he knew of, who wanted "to give birthday cakes to people who don't get birthday cakes." People with attitude like hers certainly deserve accolades rather than insults from the adults around them and society as a whole.