Top 11 Kids who made a difference- activists and geniuses!

In research about youth identity, you commonly read about how children are often regarded as voiceless and powerless beings.

Click Top 11 Kids who made a Difference to read about something different!

This slideshow and commentary of Top 11 Kids who made a Difference clearly shows this is far from the truth. The fact that children have autonomy and a voice in certain instances is very important to bear in mind when policy makers draft and craft guidelines that assume a given youth identity. Why? Because policies impact on how people act. When policies assume a particular view of children, such language and official policies will no doubt influence how people view children. At the same time, how people view children identity impacts on how officials formulate laws and policies impacting on children and youth (this is often called a ‘discursive relationship’, ie a cycle that is self-referencing ).

The link examines 9 children under 10 and 2 teens who have made a difference.While I am encouraged that these youth have been featured, I cant  help but note that they are all youth from a North American context. This is not surprising since the Huffington Post is, after all, a North American newspaper. However, what concerns me is how this plays with the reader’s subconscious and we can’t help but assume that North American children have more ‘agency’ (ie the ability to make decisions that impact on their lives) than children in ‘developing’ countries. How often have you read stories about children in China or Africa doing similarly amazing things to make a difference? But for my role as a researcher in the past, I don’t think I’ve EVER come across such good news stories. One only reads about Chinese, Korean, Singaporean etc students studying amazingly long hours and having tiger mothers guard them with watchful eyes. One only sees, on TV, images of gun totting child soldiers and rioting Middle Eastern youth.

During my research on the issue last year (which you can read about more elsewhere on this blog), I realised that youth living in the context of conflict are often categorised under three ‘identities’:

1. Youth as victims

2. Youth as troublemakers and child soldiers

3. Youth a leaders, peacebuilders and activists.
Commonly, youth living in developing countries are perceived as falling within the first and second category. Youth in North America and other ‘Western’ countries (including Pacific Island countries Australia and New Zealand) are more likely to be considered leaders and activists. Of course this is a broad generalisation and slowly there is a shift in understanding children and youth as possessing more agency and choice than initially assumed. Occupy Wall Street and demonstrating youth all over North America suggest that youth in such regions can also be regarded by the media as (and have the potential to be) troublemakers.  Similarly, there will be instances where children in the Western world are voiceless and powerless, just like, in many instances adults can be voiceless and disempowered. It is important to not overlook those circumstances.

But its also important not to overlook the times when youth and children DO make a difference. They may be the difference that our political leaders need for times  like this.

One Response to “Top 11 Kids who made a difference- activists and geniuses!”
  1. ty says:

    whaaaa awesome!

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