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Where I Stand: Sun Youth Forum:

Youth Forum provides clear voice for teens

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About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 56th annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 20. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. Lauren Lung of Coronado High School writes about issues covered by her group, Teen Topics.

Should we be able to legally drink at the age of 18 since we can vote at that age? Is bullying ever preventable? Is the rising cost of college tuition affecting not only students but the community as a whole? On Nov. 20, high school juniors and seniors from all over Clark County came together to discuss such topics concerning the youths of today.

The students in the Teen Topics forum tackled some of the most controversial and relevant topics that teenagers around the world face. As a legal adult by 18, one is immediately interested in pursuing adultlike privileges, such as drinking. If we are able to vote, purchase tobacco products and enlist in the military, why aren’t we allowed to drink legally?

Though this discrepancy is of concern, many participants in the discussion disagreed with changing the legal drinking age. There is research proving that a person’s brain does not fully develop until his or her mid-20s. A developing brain may not anticipate or fully comprehend the responsibility that comes with alcohol consumption.

Giving the privilege to drink at a younger age would lead to more problems than benefits.

Further, research proves that the number of accidents resulting from drunken driving would be much greater if teens were legally allowed to drink.

As the discussion progressed, the serious topic of bullying was brought up. How can bullying be prevented among teens?

Some students believed that establishing a supportive environment where one’s peers are inclined to speak up is necessary. Many suggested getting the community involved in trying to stop bullying.

Ideas included teaming up with other schools in the district and having programs that show people in the community how horrible bullying is and how much of an impact it has on the lives of kids.

Continuing our discussion of controversial topics, the prevention of teen pregnancy seemed to interest the participants.

We all agreed that education is a fundamental piece of the puzzle. Classes such as health education at school play a vital role in informing teens about safe practices and personal choice.

It’s beneficial for the students to also be given more facts about how pregnancy can not only affect them but also the people around them. Prevention discussions should definitely begin at home between parents and teens, but it’s crucial to reach students and spread awareness within the school culture.

College was a big topic in the forum since many of the students in the discussion were college-bound.

Increasing college tuition brought heated debates as it was noted that the tuition costs of many prestigious universities have succeeded in pushing students away from the institutions.

As a result, many are planning to attend a different university because of how much cheaper it would be compared with paying $40,000 to $50,000 annually.

Although scholarships are available, the level of competition becomes increasingly higher as colleges become more expensive.

As the forum came to a close, the takeaway for most students reflected the importance of being heard. Students’ opinions were not being shunned but embraced and nurtured. Our voices were heard and acknowledged. Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum definitely helped instill our importance as future leaders and thinkers of the world.

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