Getting Kids Involved with Social Justice Causes

So much is happening in the world right now, and for parents, navigating these heavy topics with their children can be tough—this can be especially true for children who have been raised in comparatively privileged environments. However, these are important conversations, but guidance may be needed. The following tips can help you get your children involved with causes for change.

Practice what you preach

If you want your child to advance the causes of social justice, you need to be demonstrating your own passions. Most parents focus their philanthropic and volunteering energy towards their children’s school. This is admirable and important, but make some time to focus on the social justice spectrum. You could even do this with your kids or you could encourage them to follow similar pathways. You could join a rally, give to a local cause, or volunteer to demonstrate your own commitment to justice.

Ask what they find “unfair”

Young people can struggle with the concept of “injustice,” especially if they themselves have not really experienced it.  Ask them to talk about moments where they have felt people in their lives have been unfair in their policies or even their criticisms. Analyze the concept of personal unfairness and then expand that feeling into a systemic pattern. For example, if they feel it is unfair when a teacher pre-judges their ability to do well on a test, have them imagine if there were policies in place that made it impossible for them to even try to take the test because of a trait they were born with.

Analyze their strengths and find a match

Is your child a great communicator? Consider an arts program where they can find their voice and have it amplified. Are they incredibly empathetic? Seek a program where they can give advice to their peers. If their strengths lie in organization, aim for an internship in the office of an understaffed, small nonprofit. If they are all about hard work and grit, show them volunteer opportunities where they’ll be out in the field, doing the heavy lifting—literally, in some cases!

Seek opportunities where youth are in charge

Whenever possible, find organizations and programs where young people are actually in leadership, mentorship, and decision-making positions. When new recruits join, they will automatically be given a level of voice, autonomy, and authority that young people desire, rather than being treated as “helpers.”

For some, these can be tough conversations. Don’t worry if it takes you some time to help your kids understand the concept or find a program that fits. Even small changes count!