UNICEF: Lets hear the voices of adolescents!
The Adolescence - fascinating time to learn and experience, development and expressing the critical thinking and participation in social and political issues
Campaign on adolescence - the age of opportunities
Sofia, 20 September 2017: UNICEF Bulgaria launches a long-term initiative to direct public attention to children in adolescence – as this is an age of turbulent development associated with challenges, but also with exclusive opportunities, which need to be used to benefit both the child’s and society’s development.
Recent scientific studies prove that the changes occurring during this age are extremely rapid and multi-layered.
Adolescence one of the most dynamic periods in the development of the brain, coming second after the period of early childhood.
Unlike the physical changes that occur during puberty, those major changes in the brain, triggered by hormones, are less visible and intelligible to parents, teachers, and society as a whole. This is exactly the reason why this age is associated with turbulent emotions and proneness to risk behaviour.
UNICEF’s efforts are supported by the insights from the Age Matters report, prepared and published by Youth Policy Labs, and commissioned by UNICEF’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. It shows that one of the ways to have adolescents’ voice heard is to involve them in policies and programmes. Outcomes, however, disclose that access to political participation, as one of the numerous forms of empowerment, including participation in children’s and youths’ organisations, is still limited.
In addition, according to General comment No. 20 (2016) of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: “States, through dialogue and engagement with adolescents themselves, should promote environments that acknowledge the intrinsic value of adolescence and introduce measures to help them thrive, explore their emerging identities, beliefs, sexualities, and opportunities, balance risk and safety, build capacity for making free, informed and positive decisions and life choices, and successfully navigate the transition into adulthood.
The Comment also highlights the importance of a human rights-based approach that includes recognition and respect for the dignity and agency of adolescents, as well as a commitment to the promotion, protection, and fulfillment of their human rights, without discrimination. Youths need to be encouraged to take an active part in addressing public issues in their societies, as well as in their own lives.
Teenagers are a special group of society that is particularly vulnerable. This calls for special attention and attitude. This is the time when young people start to shape their social, cultural, educational, emotional, and economic resources; the changes that take place during this period are therefore fundamental to their building a fulfilling adult life.
Against this background, UNICEF Bulgaria and partners are working towards youths’ active inclusion in public life and their growing up in stable and fulfilling environments supported by parents, schools, communities, peers, governmental institutions, the media, and socially responsible businesses – because today’s youths are tomorrow’s parents, doctors, teachers, engineers, entrepreneurs, ministers, and citizens who are to shape society’s and the world’s development.