How to Raise a Politically Active Teen

6 ways parents can instill a sense of civic responsibility in their children, and encourage their teens to vote.
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Young People's Voting Habits

In the last presidential election, only one-third of the 18-24 population in the United States voiced their opinion on who should be the leader of the free world. Yet it is this same group of people who put their lives on the line in wars and rescue missions around the world. And even if your teen isn't destined for military service, he might be applying for financial aid or entering the job market. Or he might be inspired to protect the free speech rights of his favorite controversial musician or video game producer.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people don't vote because they're too busy, they're not interested, or they feel their vote doesn't matter. This pretty much describes how a teen might feel about anything. "Politicians don't listen to young people because young people don't vote. Young people don't vote because politicians don't listen. It's a vicious cycle...," says longtime political consultant Doug Bailey.

Teens also don't feel a direct connection to what the folks in the White House are talking about. Schools and organizations like Rock the Vote try to spread awareness, but they're competing for teens' attention in an already jam-packed life.

That's why political awareness, and especially activism, starts at home. Jan Faull, child development and behavior specialist, says parents are a child's social reference from a young age on. "Whether the kid says it or not, the parent holds a strong impression for a long, long time," she says.

Continued on page 2:  How Parents Can Encourage Teens to Vote


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