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Involving Youth in Civic Life

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2000
2 pages
Publication Series
This article describes two activities that enhance the civic involvement of youth: Youth Advisory Councils (YACs) and Youth Town Hall Meetings (YTHMs).
YACs are composed of youth who regularly advise policymakers on youth issues. YACs offer youth civic roles, a voice in the legislative process, and opportunities to learn about the legislative process first-hand. Further, YACs give policymakers the opportunity to learn about youth by working with them. YAC members, policymakers, and their staffs discuss youth issues and pending legislation at regular meetings or through letters, conferences calls, e-mail messages, online chats, or videoconferences. YAC members support youth initiatives, work on community service projects, help policymakers organize civic events, and offer advice on legislative and policy issues. This article outlines the procedure for implementing a YAC. YTHMs are 1- to 2-hour discussions between panels of youth and adults and diverse audiences about "hot" topics such as gun violence, curfews, and substance abuse. YTHMs provide youth and adults ways to communicate, work, and act together on issues they care about or that have affected them. To plan a YTHM, bring together a committee of youth and adults who represent local businesses, nonprofit organizations, government, and media. Select a suitable meeting place, and choose youth and adults who have experience on the topic selected for discussion. Invite community members who will present different perspectives. A youth or adult experienced in facilitating discussions serves as a YTHM moderator and can either ask the panelists questions to which they respond or let each panelist speak briefly on the chosen topic.

Date Published: October 1, 2000