Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hello again

Thankfully the V@16 brigade haven't made any significant ground recently as I've been very busy, but this blog has had a surprising number of visitors in the meantime.

I'm just returning from the long hiatus to highlight an article on the BBC website today. It doesn't manage to go much deeper than the "but they're old enough to do X" and the "but we don't know enough about it all" arguments, but there are a couple of interesting parts...
"In Albania, for example, members of the country's youth parliament have successfully campaigned to raise the minimum drinking age from 16 to 18. They thought too many teenagers were getting drunk."
If all teenagers were so dispassionate when analysing themselves the world would be a very different place! Whilst I personally wouldn't necessarily disagree with a drinking age of 18 (although the gradual, Mediterranean way of introducing wine etc from a young age is a good way to avoid the binging culture in the UK/US), I'd say a majority of teenagers rightly or wrongly would - it's natural for people to want what they can't get.

I'd suggest that unfortunately this fascinating anecdote from Albania is an anomaly however - lowering minimum age restrictions for XYZ is a standard demand of "the voice of the youth". In my experience, the types who get involved in Youth Parliaments and become the token young people who get consulted about things by the Social Services often have the balance between opinionated righteous indignance and considered pragmatism heavily weighed towards the former.
"For thousands of years of human development, 15 or 16-year-olds have been considered as adults - but we treat them legally pretty much the same as a five-year-old or a six-year-old."
This grand statement by Alex Koroknay-Palicz of America's National Youth Rights Association is as vacuous as they come (how on Earth can the first part be quantified, and even if it could it doesn't mean that the young have always enjoyed the same political rights as elderly people - the opposite is closer to the truth), and like many V@16 statements is as much an argument for having no voting age than one for reducing it to 16.
"If you're 13 and you kill somebody, they say: 'Oh, you're a responsible adult. We're going to throw you in jail for the rest of your life.' Whereas, if you're 13 and you want to vote, they say: 'Oh, you're a stupid little kid. You don't have any rights.' So they only seem to treat people as adults when they do something wrong."
Alex again. Isn't being able to judge murder as being a bad thing a bit of a jump from being able to make an informed judgement on the future national economic policy?

"In most countries, the legal age of majority is 18. That's when the law recognises that you are an adult - that you are entitled, in law, to have control over your own body, your decisions and your actions. But that's not the same as what's called the age of licence, which is what you're allowed to do at any particular age: drink, marry, or drive a car, for example."

A welcome distinction made here by journalist Robin Lustig. 18 isn't an arbitrary age, it is when you are recognised as being autonomous, and responsible for all of your actions. Picking a different age for voting rights would, however, be a much more abitrary decision.

"Psychologist Helen Haste at the University of Bath says under-18s are perfectly capable of making the sorts of decisions that could entitle them to vote. 'They can recognise that we are part of a community and that we have to work together as a group of people in a community, whether that community is a school, a village, a town or even a country'."

Yes they can, but as with adults many under-18s are not socially conscious. Sadly that is something that can't be filtered out by any restriction.
"Many young people do seem to be much more capable than adults are prepared to believe. Many are already playing an active role in influencing the decisions made in their community. So what will the world be like when they finally take over? No-one can be sure - but I'm looking forward to finding out."
This closing statement seems to view under-18s as a unified group in a similar way to the V&16 campaigners who outrageously compare themselves to the suffragettes. Young people are just that: people who are young, who are still developing in every way on their road to maturity.


At 5:39 pm, Blogger Chris Palmer said...

I was shocked to see a new article I must say!

At 11:21 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the main issue surely must be the fact sixteen year olds are (currently)allowed to leave school and be taxed but not afforded the same rights as every other worker to have a say in how trhat money ought to be taxed.

At 5:21 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Alex again. Isn't being able to judge murder as being a bad thing a bit of a jump from being able to make an informed judgement on the future national economic policy?"
You have a point in noting that comparing a murder to a vote is quite a leap, he is simply attempting to illustrate in the most glaringly contrasting way that those under eighteen are treated like adults in the legal system if they misbehave, but not if they desire to express their political belief by electing their government. Also, the previous quotation implies you believe that a sixteen year old, for instance, is unqualified to make informed legal decisions, but you yourself acknowledge that there are adults who neglect to become socially conscious and educate themselves about political issues their nation faces before voting in elections. "Yes they can, but as with adults many under-18s are not socially conscious. Sadly that is something that can't be filtered out by any restriction." Surely you see how these arguements contradict themselves?

At 10:13 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.............................................

At 11:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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