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Are presidential candidates listening to what young people want?

President Trump on Saturday spoke to a group of young conservatives, calling them “fearless young leaders.” And while there are young people engaged and active in politics, a recent Harris poll commissioned by UNICEF USA of 8- to 17-year-olds found that only a third felt "included in the political process." Anucha Browne of UNICEF USA joins Yamiche Alcindor for more on the report.

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  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Last night in West Palm Beach, Florida, President Trump spoke to a group of young conservatives. He called them, quote, "fearless young leaders." And while there are young people who are engaged and active in politics, a recent poll of 8- to 17-year-olds found that less than half felt presidential candidates were listening to them.

    Here with me now is a Anuka Browne. She is the chief engagement, advocacy and global programs officer for UNICEF USA, which issued the report. Thanks so much for being here.

    Only about a third of American kids feel included in the political process. What does that suggest and what do they want to be talking about, that candidates aren't talking about?

  • Anucha Browne:

    Yes, it is absolutely alarming. You know, we talk about our children being our future. They represent 25% of today, but they're really 100% of our future. And they're saying that their voices are not being considered in the entire political process. 80% of them say that they think they can absolutely be a benefit and help this country improve. And 90% of them highlight that they're worried about many things.

    They're highlighting that they're worried about violence and violence, not only against them, but they're their friends and their families. They're concerned about the climate. They highlight that they're concerned about lack of resources and just their overall well-being.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And the poll found that young girls are more likely to feel excluded from the political process than boys. What does that tell you about what's going on?

  • Anucha Browne:

    Because girls, young girls, their voices are less considered in the process. You know, we, the generation today that's making policies and moving our our country forward.

    We grew up at a time when children were meant to be seen and not heard. We also grew up where that was more prevalent for girls. And so the fact that young girls don't feel that they're part of the political process is just it's systematic.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Some people would say kids don't vote. Why listen to them? What's your response to that?

  • Anucha Browne:

    Because everything that we do impacts them. These are the leaders of tomorrow. And if we aren't concerned about them, then tomorrow is not going to field well for us.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    What should we do to engage more young people in the political process?

  • Anucha Browne:

    Well, we want our politicians, we want all of our candidates on both sides of the aisle to listen to young people. Young people have not been even considered. As in, in many of the debates that have taken place to date, why don't we have a youth moderator as part of the next debate? We should be listening to young people. We should be asking them the same questions that we're asking our political candidates so that their voices are heard and considered in everything that we do.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    You know, candidates will say, they talk about climate change. They talk about gun violence. So specifically, why do young people in particular feel like their issues are being heard? What do they want to be hearing?

  • Anucha Browne:

    Well, the most important piece is, this, violence against children, bullying, issues of poverty, those are things that are happening to young people today. And so we need to hear them out. So as we are infusing, so that we are infusing child well-being policies and everything that we do. And so their voices have to be heard.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And what does that say about our political process and the future of our political process? If young people are already feeling excluded?

  • Anucha Browne:

    We need to engage young people. You know, they're all going to be voters, whether they're under 18 today, tomorrow there they'll be a voting age. And we need to engage them through that into this process so that they know that they're valued and respected.

    And so these are emerging leaders. So, how we treat them now is really going to be telling in terms of how they feel about themselves and the future of this country.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Especially as you think about the fact that half the country or about half the country doesn't vote on even in presidential elections.

  • Anucha Browne:

    Yeah, I think, you know, we've seen young people more than ever lift their voices. We've seen Greta. We've seen Malala. The fact that Greta was announced as Person of the Year by Time magazine, that's very telling that the voice of one child can change the world relative to climate change. Just think about that.

    If we spent more time lifting up the voices of young children, that would be so meaningful if adults heard them. Their voices have to be considered as part of the process. One of the things that would be really helpful is if if individuals texted 52886, texted the word "child" to 52886. What that does is, it sends a letter to all of our presidential candidates and it asks them what their vision is for children.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, thank you so much, Anucha Brown with UNICEF USA.

  • Anucha Browne:

    Thank you.

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