Why are teens so angry?

Katie Kern is a high school policy intern for Alliance for a Better Utah.

Why are teens so angry? Why are they so violent? Why are they so radical about politics? As a 17-year-old activist who cares deeply about politics, I hear those questions all the time. In my short lifetime, I have never seen a time like this before. There is a loud voice for change evident all over the world, and young people are becoming the faces for a lot of these movements. As a young person eager for change and who has anger toward all the injustices in this country, the idea that teens are angry and get nothing done is quite shocking. It is not shocking that other generations think we are mad, because we are mad. It is shocking that they think we can get nothing done with our passion for curating change. A common misconception is that Gen Z is nihilist and too sad to get anything done. Yes, studies show that our generation has higher rates of depression than other generations, but in many situations, we use that passion as a catalyst to make a change. But why don’t young people vote? I don’t think it’s nihilism, at least in my anecdotal experience. I just don’t think that young people understand how important voting is and how much impact their votes have. 

Young people are the faces of climate change. Youth-led organizations such as the Sunrise Movement help push for change in how this country deals with the state of the planet. This planet is dying and we don’t have much time to fix it, so young people are very passionate about taking care of this planet for our future. Policy created by people in older generations is hurting the planet instead of fixing it. Although many older generations have built the way for change and started conversations and movements so that our generation can succeed and make a further change, current leadership and policy are hurting the planet. So yes, it makes sense that young people are angry about how the planet is being neglected. Is this anger doing anything, though? Well, recently millions of people across 185 countries took part in the largest climate protest ever, led by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. The Sunrise Movement is pushing for Congress to pass the Green New Deal, a 10-year plan that would push this country toward implementing clean and renewable energy by 2030. 

What else have teens done? Well, March For Our Lives is a youth-started and youth-led organization fighting to end gun violence. Millions marched along with this movement after a school shooting in Florida in 2017. This organization has proposed legislation to end gun violence and helped pass bills like Universal Background Checks in many states. A lot of people characterized the teens who started March For Our Lives as angry, but I saw them as fellow teens who were both intelligent and passionate. 

Many teens across the country and world are making their marks in different movements. We’re organizing protests in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and continuing to fight for racial justice. My social media feed has been filled with Black Lives Matter and racial justice content since March. Teens support Dreamers, immigrants, and refugees, while refusing to accept how the current administration has handled immigration. Also, teens celebrate Pride month on social media and fight to support LGBTQ+ youth. So yes, teens are mad about injustices but we’re not just angry—we care for the future and are disappointed with current leadership and policy. So, have faith in the young generation and use your power to help us continue our work because we’re just getting started.

Katie Kern is a high school policy intern for Alliance for a Better Utah.

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