“Who cares?”: Young adolescents’ perceived barriers to civic action
Bauml M; Davis Smith V; Blevins B
While civic participation is a crucial component of healthy and sustainable democracies, young adolescents may perceive or experience barriers that limit their civic action. This study draws from focus groups and surveys during a week-long summer civics camp to explore ways in which 47 young adolescents entering Grades 6-9 described barriers they perceive to civic action in their schools and communities. Findings reveal that participants entered camp believing they were capable of making a difference in their communities. Their ideas for youth civic action in schools and broader communities typically represented personally responsible and participatory notions of citizenship. Key obstacles to civic activities included partnerships with peers/adults, peers' reluctance to exercise civic duty, social-emotional factors, and lack of resources.