Why are young people so disengaged in politics?

PLMR's Yasmin Kenny discusses how young people are so disengaged in politics

A couple of months ago during one of my Year 10 lessons, a small debate was sparked on the subject of politics… however it was not the one you may expect.

Someone had mentioned the name ‘Theresa May’, and a response came immediately from across the room saying, “Who’s she?”

It’s clear that there is an absence of political understanding amongst the youth of today. During the EU Referendum, over one third of millennials did not vote, a staggering statistic when you consider that ours is the generation most affected by the outcome.

It was only after the actual election that I personally found out what Brexit would mean for me in and how much (in my opinion) we had lost.  I wasn’t alone in this, many students that were eligible to vote did not fully understand what it meant to leave the EU.

How can we re-engage younger people in political decision making? One solution could be lowering the legal voting age.  Since 2017, many MPs have been debating whether 16 and 17 year olds should also be enfranchised, as they were for the Scottish Independence Referendum. Whilst this would help young people have a voice in the national debate, it still does not c3hange the fact that we may still be uninformed about the decisions being presented.

In terms of political education, Millennials have few options. Some have increased their understanding of politics through social media influencers who, at the time of the Brexit vote, encouraged great numbers to take a more active role.

Another solution might be to teach politics more in schools. In 2013, less than 13,000 students opted to take politics at A levels, perhaps because the subject appears nowhere else in the curriculum before this choice is available. This makes choosing the subject feel a bit like a jump into the unknown. If politics was given as a humanities choice at GCSE level, young people would feel more confident in taking the subject further. Who knows, perhaps a small change like this could lead to a more informed and confident youth population that has the confidence and drive to get more involved in current affairs in the future.

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