Youth in New Zealand and our rights

Essay by bigkj March 2004

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Youth is energy, passion, creativity and dreams. This must be fostered, encouraged and developed. Real obstacles do exist, both internal and external, but youth are much more than problems. The future of our neighbourhoods, our cities, our country and our world lie in the hands of the youth of today.

Kiwi youth are not Australians, nor Americans, but have a unique flavour and an individual style. This is evident in the strong New Zealand music scene, growing day by day. New Zealanders are now listening to New Zealand artists, playing music inspired by New Zealand. Imaginative and high achieving New Zealanders are setting standards worldwide.

I firmly believe that youth are limited only by constrained potential. Limits that are both external and internal - varying enormously from one person to the next. However when a significant slice of the population - Statistics New Zealand reports up to 10,000 young people each year - leave school with little or no formal qualifications, then these limits are imposed not only on the fullness of the lives of individuals but on the future of Aotearoa.

The Government has a responsibility to remove some of the external limits; youth surrounded by violence, trapped by drugs and alcohol, failed by the education system, frustrated by poverty and caught up by unwanted pregnancies.

The direction the youth are taking is the direction Aotearoa/New Zealand will be moving in, and if only for that reason the community must take an interest in youth affairs. Youth are so much more than problems and statistics. The biggest issue facing youth is that are more than just an issue.

For a holistic approach to youth development it is essential that we consider the internal limits as well. We need to celebrate youth success, to allow and encourage...