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Showing posts from October, 2018

Youth programs can rescue democracy

By Jessica Pierson Russo

When I hear points of view that differ radically from my own, my appreciation of the speaker’s honesty usually outweighs my intolerance of their views. The balance tips when those views collide with the ones I hold most dear. The temptation then is to want to silence those views; but I know that censorship is not the answer. I think our young people deserve a democracy in which people will hear each other out.

The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech. Psychologists contend that self-expression is important to a person’s mental health. Similarly, quality youth development practice says that youth need to feel safe and to have spaces in which to discuss conflicting values and form their own.  A censored environment limits democracy and it limits youth development.

But what happens when self-expression makes others feel personally attacked? How can we encourage youth to express potentially controversial views without alienating others?

I…