So often, the most vulnerable members of society can’t speak for themselves. And when it comes to people who are struggling, especially the voiceless youth, people who do have a voice and power within society need to step up and become advocates.
But how do you get started? What is actually helpful, and what’s causing more harm than good? If you want to advocate for voiceless youth in your community, country, and all over the world, it’s important to look to the experts and help in any way you can. Here are some ideas to help you take action right away.
Research Key Issues Impacting Today’s Youth
To understand how you can be helpful you first need to know about the different issues impacting today’s youth. The most vulnerable youth are affected by a number of factors all at once, putting them at great physical and emotional risk. Learning about the scope of these problems is key for creating awareness and speaking from a place of knowledge.
Food insecurity, homelessness, poverty, and neglect are probably all issues you’re familiar with. Many young people in the United States and around the world struggle with these problems every day. But there are also some lesser-known issues that can affect the lives of young people, including period poverty.
Period poverty is a term that typically describes a lack of access to sanitary and menstrual supplies. These essentials are expensive, taxed in many areas, and may not be widely available in some countries. The consequences of period poverty can include physical health problems like urinary tract infections, but can also lead to girls missing and falling behind in school or being forced to use uncomfortable substitutes like toilet paper or rags.
Research some of the lesser-known issues like period poverty so you can spread awareness. You need to be confident in your knowledge and get your information from reliable sources before you educate others. Without awareness, we can’t expect to see any major changes, so learn as much as you can and share your knowledge with friends and family.
Find Ways to Be an Ally
There are lots of ways you can support voiceless youth. If you can be a resource for individual kids and teens, do what you can to ensure that they are safe and cared for. Make a list of local resources you can turn to when a young person in your community needs help or is considering running away.
You can also help by volunteering. Choose a reputable organization you can feel good about working with. Organizations that support vulnerable youth should provide resources for young people of all backgrounds, races, genders, and sexual orientations. Voiceless youth do not need judgment, they need affirmation and support that meets them where they are.
Support Policies and Politicians That Prioritize Kids
Many people don’t realize just how many kids and teens experience homelessness in the United States and globally in any given year. In America, around 4.2 million youths and young adults are homeless at some point each year. That’s not the only way our society has failed our most vulnerable young people, but it’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately.
You can do your part by looking into legislation that supports and prioritizes vulnerable children, teens, and young adults. Support these policies and share them. Vote for politicians who are dedicated to caring for voiceless young people and encourage others to donate and support in favor of these politicians and policies. That’s where real, lasting change happens.
Help Educate Others on Current Issues and Ways to Help
Being an advocate means sharing what you know. Most people have no idea that period poverty or youth homelessness is such a big problem in America—and that’s a problem. Social media is a great option for spreading the word to a larger audience. You already have a platform and a sphere of influence. Why not use it for good?
Getting more people motivated and involved in advocacy is key. There’s strength in numbers. Voiceless youth are used to being ignored and having to struggle every single day. What if, in ten years, no child or teen had to question where they’d be spending the night? Realizing that dream starts with each and every one of us.