Yesterday, in response to student protests at Yale University, Glenn Harlan Reynolds wrote in USA Today that he believes that 18 year-olds should no longer have the right to vote. He actually believes they can enlist and go to war, but should have no say about who our leaders should be until the age of 25.
The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 back in 1971, but according to Reynolds "whatever one might say about the 18-year-olds of 1971, the 18-year-olds of today aren’t up to that task. And even the 21-year-olds aren’t looking so good. " Reynolds goes on to call 18 year-olds spoiled, irresponsible, and "too fragile to participate in politics."
There is so much wrong with this statement that it's hard to know where to begin, but what I'm most angry about is that I have heard a similar view about today's teenagers many times, and I just don't get it. Yesterday on KTSA, our local talk-radio station, the Poll of the Day was "Should we raise the voting age to 25?" I heard callers throw phrases around like "kids today don't know the value of money" and "these kids are all entitled, none of them work." The one that made me the most mad was "18 year olds now are nothing like we were at that age. Our parents raised us right, taught us right from wrong and we had respect. Kids today have none of that."
I work with 17 and 18 year-olds almost every day in my high school senior photography business, and what I see are teenagers that are every bit as independent, smart and involved in their communities as ever. These kids deal with just as much or more pressure to achieve and be successful than teens from 1971, but with the promise of lower paying jobs and a much harder job market.
I don't know where these callers live, but it must not be in Schertz, Texas. The kids I know and work with are respectful, have jobs, great grades, excel in sports, are leaders and find ways to give back to their community. Some of them help pay for their portrait sessions with me, some help care for younger siblings or do volunteer work. They are phenomenal kids, and it makes me angry to hear adults lump them all together with a few protesters at a couple of universities.
As part of a national campaign called Beauty Revived, I am donating a session to two local teenagers, Clemens High School senior Alyssa Garza and Johnson High School senior Ashton Roberts, to recognize the good they do in our community. They will each have their stories and images submitted to Beauty Revived Magazine for the chance to be published and for the chance to receive one of three $3500 scholarships.
But I've decided not to stop with these two seniors. I plan to continue to shine a light on the amazing hard work and fabulous attitudes of the kids in my area. I want the teens in my community to know that they are appreciated and valued, and I want to share their stories.
18 year olds today are no less deserving of the right to vote then they were in 1971. They are authentic, caring, hard-working and responsible. I believe that it's time that the "adults" recognized them for who they are and the good they do.