As The Who pointed out "The Kids are Alright" but they forgot to add that it is the adults that need to get their act together.
Drugs and alcohol – the dealers, the users and the policy makers are all grownups, but it is the kids who cop all the fallout. Domestic violence; again, it is adults' behaviour that damages the children. Custody battles that rage on for years - often with little insight into the effect this has on the children caught between parental friction.
We profess to value our children yet so often what happens is that they go to the bottom of the list as adults argue over perceived rights and wrongs.
The current growing concerns around vaccination rates is a classic example of adults deciding not to vaccinate or campaigning against fluoridated water because of their grownup-centric views that do not consider the wellbeing of children – their own and other people's children in their community.
If you put the question to young children themselves, I think they would show much more respect for their peers and see vaccination and fluoridation as a community good.
There are some who would argue that kids don't know enough to make such decisions for themselves, but kids are quite astute and recognise the concept of social responsibility.
Going further along this logic continuum, it is apparent that adolescents should be given the vote at age 16. If they can learn to drive at 16 years, they should be able to vote. There are more risks to driving anywhere in New Zealand than there are to voting.
Let's get this into perspective; a teenager can learn to drive a potentially deadly chunk of metal that can kill people but is apparently not safe with a voting form?
The list of legal changes at age 16 years includes the following:
• Get married or register a civil partnership with consent
• Drive a moped or invalid carriage
• You can consent to sexual activity with others aged 16 and over
• Drink wine/beer with a meal if accompanied by someone over 18
• Get a National Insurance number
• Join a trade union
• Work full-time if you have left school
• Be paid national minimum wage for 16/17-year-olds
• Join the Armed Forces with parental consent
• Change name by deed poll
• Leave home with or without parental consent
• In certain circumstances you must pay for prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests
• Choose a GP
• Consent to medical treatment
• Buy premium bonds
• Pilot a glider
• Buy a lottery ticket
• Register as a blood donor, but you won't be called to give blood until you're 17
• Apply for a passport without parental consent
Voting is clearly a dangerous thing. In some ways it is, as it seems that Parliament is scared by the notion of young people having it.
As we see in the global news, in some countries people have taken to the streets to challenge the way decisions are made at a political level on matters that affect the daily lives of citizens.
In Hong Kong the demand for more autonomy has led to weeks of demonstrations that have rattled China's control. The protesters, many of them young students, see voting for their own political leaders and demanding a say in the future as something worth risking life and limb for because voting has value and many political forces fear its power.
Give 16-year-old New Zealanders the vote. They will use it with respect. The other option is to take away all their existing rights because they are too young to decide anything. No two ways about it, it is either one thing or the other because the kids are alright.
• Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a writer, musician and social worker.