The Youth Citizenship Commission was created in 2008, based upon an idea first aired in the 2007 Governance of Britain Green Paper. As a Commission, we were faced with exciting but challenging tasks. Firstly, to define what citizenship means to young people. Secondly to increase young people’s participation in politics and promote active citizenship, reflecting the communication preferences of young people. Thirdly, to lead a consultation on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.
The Commission comprised members drawn from very different age ranges and life experiences. We undertook these tasks because we feel it is of the utmost importance that young people play a full part as citizens within our society and political system. We wanted to help young people, who are often unfairly demonised or erroneously labelled apathetic to develop as active and vibrant young citizens, engaged in the democratic process and assisting their communities. The Commission examined an exhaustive amount of evidence. We undertook quantitative survey evidence of young people and engaged in extensive qualitative discussions with teenagers from a very wide range of backgrounds and from across the UK. The Commission was anxious to hear the authentic voices of youth from across the social spectrum.
Our proposals are based upon three key principles; the need to empower young citizens; a duty to connect with young people to facilitate citizenship opportunities and a need to change the way in which some decision-making institutions operate. We offer recommendations in the areas of the delivery of citizenship education; youth representation; methods of institutional engagement with young people; improved information on opportunities for young citizens and comprehensive long-term auditing of youth engagement procedures. Our recommendations do not constitute panaceas for difficult issues, but they represent important and viable contributions to the social and political wellbeing of young people and to the overall health of our democracy
If you are interested in the issues raised by the work of the Youth Citizenship Commission and would like more information, please address your enquiries to Professor Jon Tonge , or Dr Andrew Mycock