Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Editor’s note: About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 62nd annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 29. 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. This essay addresses the issues covered by the Law and Crime group.
As evidenced by the toxic arguments that can be found on social media, civil discourse and intellectual diversity can be hard to come by in today’s society. The Sun Youth Forum managed to gather a diverse group of students who would discuss matters that legislators consider daily.
The students in our room set an example for all who are weary of America’s political tribalism.
The process was relatively simple: A question was posed to the group, and students were provided the opportunity to express our beliefs and refine the ideas of our peers.
But what happened next was remarkable, as students from across the political spectrum engaged in relatively civil discussions, and dissenting opinions generally were refined into solutions that could be implemented in our communities.
On two topics, however, students took sides and set out to defend their perspective until the other group conceded. Those topics: guns and abortion.
On abortion, the group divided along a dispute over whether abortion was a responsible choice made by a mother or was the act of prematurely ending a life.
Those who identified themselves as pro-choice pointed out flaws in the foster care system and the life-threatening situation in which a mother may find herself with the choice between self-preservation or giving birth. On the other hand, anti-choice advocates stated that under no circumstances should the life of a child be taken prematurely.
On guns, self-proclaimed supporters of the Second Amendment cited the Constitution and stated that responsible gun owners should not be punished for the heinous actions of criminals. On the other side, advocates for gun control expressed concern about the increasing frequency of mass shootings.
After the argument on gun control, the group realized how distant we had all grown from one another. But we departed in good graces, ending an interaction that provides a source of wisdom for the future.
In this divisive time, it is necessary for a program such as this youth forum to exist. It is meant to act as a beacon of hope for the next generation of American citizens, to encourage constructive political discourse, and to revive critical thinking in today’s society.
It is when all of these needs are met that compromises between ideologies can gradually mend the nation’s wounds.
Gregory Balov-Madrid is a senior at Rancho High School.