When I watch the news today, it’s inevitable to hear about controversial topics. As an 18-year-old, soon to be freshmen in college, sometimes I feel like I’m helpless and can’t weigh in on these topics. Other times, I feel like no one will listen even if I try.
However, as I’ve learned through my internship at Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), while I may not be allowed to run for office yet, there are still ways to advocate and make a difference, especially when it comes to kids.
One way is to contact your local and national lawmakers. Letter after letter, email after email, call after call. Don’t stop until you’ve gained their attention. Don’t think this will work? Meghan Markle did it! Getting in touch with elected officials is an effective way to make your voice heard. Legislators love to hear from their constituents about issues that are important to them, so if they don’t hear from you, they may not invest in kids.
Another way to advocate for kids is by using social media. After all, in this day and age, what better way is there to contact someone? It’s simple and quick. Research shows that 77% of Americans used social media in 2018. Spreading the word online can educate people faster and allow you to reach a wider audience. If you’re lucky, your posts may even trend, increasing the chance it’ll be seen by politicians.
The last strategy is possibly the easiest, and that is to go out and vote for kids! Although you can only vote when you’re 18, it’s one of the most impactful ways to make a difference. You can directly influence the law by learning about the issues and voting for a certain candidate or a proposed legislation. Many people don’t vote because they think their one vote won’t make a difference, but it will. Think of it this way: only 55% of voting-aged citizens cast ballots in the last presidential election. That is the lowest turnout in a presidential election since 1996.
Put simply, if you are a teenager like me, don’t let anyone tell you your opinion doesn’t matter. You have a voice, use it to fight for what you believe in!