SHELBY SAYS: Today's teens: Do we really have a voice?

“How would you know? You’re too young!” Just one of the many responses today’s youth get when we try to voice our opinion on an issue. It seems a growing amount of younger American citizens are putting the “two cents” into the debates happening around our country.
As a fellow American youth, I can vouch for the claim that today’s generation is very opinionated. However, there are many times when adults or even older teens reject our input because of our age.
Curiosity led me to conduct a survey within my high school. The first question was, “Do you know what liberal and conservative are?”
Of the 30 students asked, seventeen said yes and the remaining 13 said they did not know the difference.
I explained the difference, then asked them which side they were on. Of those same 30 students, two said they were liberal, 25 said they were conservative and the remaining 3 said they had no preference.
These results may make you wonder how many of the students surveyed really chose what they did by their own will. A lot of times, teenagers only choose their political views because thoe are the views that their parents claim.
The final question I asked the students was, “Do you think your parents’ views affected your political views?” I was surprised when 16 of the students said their parents’ views influenced theirs and 14 said they didn’t.
The truth in today’s society is that the younger adults that boldly proclaim their opinions on issues don’t stop and think about if those opinions are even truly their own.
For example, a couple could raise a child to believe in one thing, but the child could grow up and develop a completely opposite view, but be too afraid of rejection from their loved ones to express that view. That’s the root of the problem. Many of the opinions voiced today are just a carbon copy of the parents that brainwashed them into their own children.
For those youth that claimed their parents’ views didn’t influence theirs, today’s teens can thank you. In this ever-changing, politically involved world, we need to be originals. We need to have a unique voice that we can stand behind and support even when people disagree with whatever is being defended.
As today’s teens, we have a duty to uphold the future of this great nation, not by following in someone else’s footprints, but by ringing out in a united melody of unique voices.
So, if you are reading this and happen to be between the ages of 16 and 24, I’m going to ask you to think a little bit.
What would you like America to look like in five or ten years?
Whatever your vision is, there is only one way to mold it into a reality. We have a duty as the heirs of this great nation to step up with a firm belief in our own words and use that belief to make something out of a country that otherwise would fall victim to false viewpoints and borrowed voices.

Shelby Woodall is a student in the Bryant School District. Her column appears each Tueday in The Saline Courier. She can be reached at