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-The entire student body at Miami Northwestern High School in Liberty City walked out of class Tuesday morning to protest gun violence in their community.
-Students said that they walked out in order to bring the world’s attention to the deaths of young people in Miami’s inner city.
-Kimson Green, a student at the school, was shot dead over the weekend during an outbreak of violence.
-The students say that they want the world to give as much attention to violence in inner cities as it has to what happened in Parkland.
-The walkout was spontaneous, and occurred after the school organized a ceremony to honor Green.
-Student leaders say that they plan on walking out again tomorrow.
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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It’s no secret that young people in the U.S. are less involved in politics than other age groups.
More accurately, it is clear that young people between the ages 18 to 25 vote at a lower rate than the rest of the population.
There have been so many theories as to why our generation is the most inactive demographic, but instead of jumping to conclusions, rather, let’s refer to statistics around the world.
The U.S., among many other countries has a voting age of 18.
An article in The Guardian made a list of the various countries around the world with a lower voting age.
They found that “The voting age is 16 and above in Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina […] Austria is the only country in the EU where 16 years olds can vote in general elections. Turnout is roughly the same as in other age groups.”
Austria presents an interesting example.
This suggests that lowering the voting age might cause younger individuals to be more or in this case, equally involved in politics as the rest of the country.
So the ultimate question is whether or not 16 year olds understand politics well enough to vote?
The answer is, they could.
Countries with a lower voting age have a greater amount of civic education in schools. In an interview with Bill Maher, Michael Moore argues, “It’s like drivers ed., at 16 they should be learning about how the government really works”.
Civics has never been any high school student’s favorite class, and that is because it serves to satisfy a required curriculum rather than to actually teach students how politics work.
In this same interview with Bill Maher, Bob Graham explains that we need to “reintroduce serious study of what it means to be a citizen in this country”.
He also suggests that our lack of civic education might be why “Donald Trump thinks he is going to be elected to be George III rather than president of the United States”. Graham is a very witty man.
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If the U.S. decided to lower the voting age, there would be some valid initial concerns. Debatewise.org released information that compared the reasons for and against a voting age of 16. One of the reasons against the change is that “18-25 year olds are the least likely to cast a vote at election time. […] Lowering the voting age still further is therefore likely to reduce turnout even more”.
Though this concern is valid, it focuses less on the voting age and more on the true underlying issues with youth voting in general.
Many young people who are eligible to vote claim that they do not want to participate in an election either because they do not like or understand politics, or they feel that the system is corrupt.
The second reason can be chalked up as normal, historical evidence of youth rebellion against “the man”, but the first reason is very concerning.
When asked, some eligible voters between the ages of 18-25 claimed they don’t like politics because it is so divided.
They said that they didn’t like the process of an election in general, or that candidates never seem genuine.
Every one can agree that these complaints come from a long history of politicians and/or candidates tap dancing around controversial questions, catering to a particular political party, or reiterating the same ideologies over and over again.
But everyone feels that way about politics to some degree. So while this is a turnoff for any intelligent voter, it does not get right down to the reasons why young people just don’t vote.
Young people’s complaints that they do not understand politics should be at the forefront of these low voting rate theories.
A polling website called, The Top Tens, did a polling to rate school subjects from best to worst according to anyone who visits the site.
Best, being the subject of the most value and importance, and worst being the least useful.
Their ranking is as follows:
And social studies, (i.e. politics) is not even in the top ten. Schools stress the importance of math and science to students starting at a very young age.
Perhaps, it is why our generation is so concerned about the environment.
The evidence clearly demonstrates that when students are given more opportunity to focus on a subject, (like millennials have been with environmental sciences), they carry that subject’s importance with them throughout their lives.
If social studies are so low on this poll, it is clear that the subject did not ensure the same kind of interest or importance as much as other subjects.
With inadequate curriculum for civic studies, it is no wonder that when asked why young people do not like politics they reply that they do not understand how it works!
It is even worse in college.
By this point in time, individuals have developed an understanding of their interests and aspirations for the most part.
Politics becomes this arduous and tedious practice of American culture that students feel apathetic towards.
Emory College’s newspaper, “Southern Changes” wrote an article about why the youth don’t vote.
They interviewed different students to get their opinions. One student explains, “Being a young person myself, I understand both the importance of being an active citizen of the United States, and the overwhelming, “it doesn’t affect me” syndrome”.
Topics like social security and welfare reform are things that young people have never needed to learn about, nor are they very interested in how these issues are dealt with by the government.
It becomes much easier to focus on their individual lives and studies than to be an active voice in the debate of social security benefits.
However, this way of thinking caters towards the stereotypical belief that millennials have a short attention span and lack of interest for things that do not affect their personal lives. But wait, these things really do.
In a recent New York Times article, Tamar Lewin explains that millennials are more likely to move back in with their parents than any other generation before them due to a decline in marriages and a terrible job market.
The economy has affected new graduates in a very bad way. Jobs are scarce and pay is poor, therefore, all of that student loan debt seems a bit problematic to pay back when one barely can find a minimum wage job.
These are things that come up in elections; these are things young people should be at the forefront of in politics.
Young people have to decide as a whole to actively participate in local and national reform that lessens the amount of acquired debt from school, and opens up more jobs with better wages.
This is not to say that young people turn a blind eye to these kinds of issues, this election has been an especially noisy one from this demographic due to candidate Bernie Sanders.
And yet, even with a candidate such as him, it is difficult to rely on 18 to 25 years old to participate in politics past the presidential election.
Young people initially were active supporters of President Obama, but quickly ceased any political action and barely voted in the most recent midterm elections.
The scary part is that if Sanders is not the Democratic candidate, many young people and their disdain for Hilary Clinton have declared that they will not participate in this election.
So do we blame millennials for being the things they are so often accused of being, or do we look at other countries and their youth voter participation, and decide that this is a systematic issue?
Reflecting back on the initial question of whether or not 16 year olds understand politics well enough to vote, the answer as of now is definitely not because our 18 to 25 year olds even claim to be uninformed and uneducated in politics.
But this does not have to be the case.
Evidence confirms that when you include citizens in civic endeavors at a young age, and you provide them adequate means of education for the subject, they do participate as much as other age groups.
For the U.S. it might not be the time to discuss lowering the voting age if we still do not have a more effective curriculum to educate and motivate young people in politics.
That should be the priority and then perhaps we can follow in other countries footsteps and lower our voting age.
Photo Credit: Denali National Park and Preserver /Flickr (CC By 2.0)
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.Post Views: 648
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In an exclusive interview with Rise News, the man behind a viral Facebook post claiming that a South Carolina McDonald’s served him a moldy tea, stood by his comments even as the fast food giant seemed to reject his claims.
Brandon Benjamin posted to Facebook on September 1 that he had purchased a meal the night before at a McDonald’s located at 2390 Chestnut St in Orangeburg, SC. His message was colorful and quickly went viral:
“STOP eating McDonald’s and getting they’re [sic] tea. I went to McDonald’s last night and got myself a McChicken and peach cream pie with a $1 tea. I left my tea in the fridge thinking it’ll be alright tomorrow. I was ABSOLUTELY DISGUESTED [sic] with what I found in my cup. After taking 2 sips, it didn’t taste right at all. I poured out the tea and found this!!!!!!,” Benjamin wrote describing the photos he posted with the message.
In both a phone interview and in a Facebook message conversation, Benjamin stood by his comments and said that he was shocked by what he said was in his cup.
“Mold, gunk, bacteria was stuck alongside the inside of the cup,” Benjamin said. “I began to feel sick to my stomach after seeing what I took two large sips of.”
Benjamin also said that he was experiencing stomach issues that he believes to be related to the alleged moldy cup.
“There was quite a nasty smell- it was really horrible,” Benjamin said.
He also said that he was a longtime customer of that particular McDonald’s as it is close to his place of employment.
“This is my main location [McDonald’s] and they know who I am there,” Benjamin told Rise News. “I went through the drive-through. I went home and the tea tasted a little bitter on the drive there.”
Benjamin said that he has kept the cup as “evidence” and that he would be willing to take a lie detector test if asked to prove his level of truthfulness.
Rise News‘ request for comment to McDonald’s was forwarded to a public relations firm who provided a statement from the local owner and operator of the Orangeburg location in question.
“Operating a safe and clean restaurant for our customers is a top priority, and we take any complaints very seriously,” store owner Emory Main said. “When the customer returned to the restaurant the day after his purchase and brought it to our attention, our subsequent review of our equipment and operations lent no support to the customer’s allegations. We continually review our comprehensive operations to ensure our customers have the best restaurant and food experience.”
Benjamin said that he had in fact returned to the store to show the on call manager the cup.
“They offered me another tea and a free meal, which disgusted me,” Benjamin said.
“This could happen to anyone else. My family has talked to me about getting a lawyer which I may do,” Benjamin said.
Photo Credit: Brandon Benjamin/FacebookPost Views: 1,391
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A college campus. The sound of gunfire. Screams. Bodies strewn about, covered in blood.
What has all too frequently come flashing across our Twitter streams and TV screens in this case is not another actual campus shooting, but a planned demonstration at the University of Texas, Austin.
This Saturday at noon local time, two gun rights groups, Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com plan to conduct a “crisis performance” after marching through Austin openly carrying loaded rifles and other weapons according to Matthew Short, a spokesman for the organizations.
Once near the university, “crisis actors” will use props made of cardboard and fake blood while the sound of gunfire rings out from bullhorns to perform a mock mass shooting incident, complete with pretend armed heroes who will apparently end the fake carnage with cardboard weapons of their own.
The groups intend to highlight their positions regarding “gun free zones”, like the UT Austin campus.
“Gun free zones are killing us,”A statement on the event’s Facebook page reads. “These target rich environments are letting our children be murdered by evil people. Now is the time to stand up, take a walk, and put pressure on politicians to ban Gun Free Zones.”
UT Austin is the site of two campus shootings, the Tower shooting in 1966, in which 14 people were killed and 32 wounded by student Charles Whitman. Whitman was killed by police, ending his siege.
In 1990, student Colton Tooley fired shots on campus from an AK-47, before ending his own life in the main library.
Initially, organizers endeavored to hold the event on campus, however this was met by threats of criminal charges by the Board of Regents. Organizers now intend to hold the event on a public right of way, using the university as a backdrop.
June 1, 2015 marked the passage of S.B. 11, the so called ‘campus carry law’, which Governor Greg Abbott signed in to law.
The law gives concealed carry permit holders legal authority to carry their weapons on campus beginning August 1, 2016.
In response to this, UT Texas has set up an advisory board, will hold two public forums and has also set up a survey to explore how the University intends to comply with the statute, while maintaining public safety.
Given the recent terror attack in San Bernardino and the shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, some feel that this event is in bad taste, and could be potentially dangerous.
Ralph Fisk, the CEO of Fisk Consultants in Hutto, TX, and a published Emergency Management professional with expertise in Active Shooters, Counter-Terrorism and Physical Security, has heard a great deal about this event from his local law enforcement and other campus contacts.
“I understand the right to exercise your first and second amendment rights, as in this case, however that planned demonstration in my opinion is over the top,” Fisk said. “Having a mock ‘active shooter’ incident is better saved for those that exercise these incidents in preparation for an actual attack. As an Open Carry Supporter, I feel this is not something that I personally could support.”
Joan Neuberger, a UT Austin Professor and advocate with the campus organization Gun Free UT, told the Statesman that staging, “a mass shooting during an anxious time for students – finals week – not only breaks rules but shows real disrespect for the feelings of students, faculty and staff who don’t want to have guns around them in the first place, but will be forced to put up with guns in public places in 2016.”
Cover Photo Credit: Derek Key/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 604
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