This I Believe

Andrew - Westerville, Ohio
Entered on September 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Discrimination against Teenagers

I believe teenagers currently face the most discrimination of any group of people in the United States. When a group of teenagers walk into a store I have noticed that employees generally seem to watch the teenagers like hawks. It is almost as if the employees expect something of a criminal nature to happen merely because a group of teenagers entered a store. It amazes me how much prejudice teenagers face in this country. I feel that discrimination whether it be based on race, gender, or religion is wrong. Discrimination based on race, gender, and religion may still be among us, however the problem of discrimination based on those things at the very least has been addressed and is a known problem in society. Discrimination based on age appears to be the latest thing that Americans must face.

When I was a freshman in high school I had a personal experience involving discrimination at a Speedway gas station right by my school. A couple of my friends and I were hungry before a football game that we were going to play later that day. We walked in wearing our football jerseys and were told that only two students were permitted inside at a time. This policy reeked of the same discrimination minorities have overcome in many areas of the country. I was so disgusted with the manager and with that gas station that I did not shop there until four years after the incident. I resumed shopping there after someone finally took down the sign saying two students at a time.

Teenagers are among the greatest contributors to society. Many teenagers choose to do volunteer work through churches, Boy Scouts, school, or other organizations. Some even choose to volunteer abroad through the Peace Corps. The act of helping someone without any thought of repayment shows true compassion. These people want to change the world for the better through volunteering their time and effort. The work these teenagers do truly makes a difference in the lives of many people.

I believe that in today’s society the current set of laws blatantly discriminate against the teenagers of America. These laws are hypocritical, unfair, and immoral. I believe that teenagers experience prejudice from adults on a daily basis. They are taught to act like adults but are not afforded the same rights and privileges as adults. American teenagers are restrained like children yet in many causes they are punished as adults by law enforcement. It is sickening that the same people who reason that laws are needed to protect teenagers due to the fact that their brains are not completely developed also support adult punishment for these individuals. This hypocrisy must end now.

There needs to be a cutoff dividing the point in which childhood ends and adulthood begins. This cutoff point must be the same for every law. In order to truly not be a society defined by hypocrisy, the laws regarding teenagers must change. For instance, a sixteen year old can be tried as an adult but does not have the rights that an adult has been given by the law. If teenagers can be punished as adults, then they need the same rights afforded to adults under the law. The current laws are simply not tolerable in a society that is supposed to stand for freedom and equality.

I believe teenagers currently face the most discrimination of any group of people in the United States. I find it intolerable that discrimination against anyone is considered acceptable in today’s society. It utterly shameful that teenagers who contribute so much to society are routinely discriminated against by adults; consequently teaching them that it discrimination is ok. Now I ask you America. Do you want your children to grow up believing that discrimination against anyone is right?