Public speaking is a very important skill in the 21st century. Freedom of speech and expression is the right of every citizen. However, that's mostly applicable in theory, not practical, be it for children or adults.
On one hand, schools and colleges encourage expression and opinion through debates, MUNs, speaking clubs and on the other, children and youth are falling victim for being opinionated and expressive through cyberbullying by similar age groups on social media or online communities, by corporate bullies who can't bear criticism against them and pull down opinionated content of children and youth, by higher authorities who can cause personal or professional harm to them.
It's important for children and youth to have an opinion, to be expressive about their views on everything happening around them, but it's even more important how they develop these insights and structure their thoughts and how they express it. Cyberbullying, corporate bullies that offer services to children and youth, neighbours and relatives, peer groups can all have a long-lasting impact on the life of a child or youth if they don't express themselves effectively and in a balanced way.
Discussing various problems of different countries as children and youth can no doubt bring awareness of current affairs, but it can also cause various problems at different stages of life due to early exposure to deeper problems without proper context and experience and expertise to grasp it. Every age group can not address every issue in the same way, especially as students at school or college as there are professional experts handling that at the bigger levels.
Big talk from smallmouths can be impressive or worthy of applauding many times at a family or school level or create excitement in a college crowd but over a period of time, this could create harm to a child or youth by higher authorities at a family, local, national and global level if they are not taught how to balance out opinions and views. Also, it causes imbalance and conflict in elders and elderly people with experience and expertise as they felt insecure either at home or at a company or as a leader of the nation and therefore try to curb and suppress those young voices. The world isn't fully equipped with intergenerational leadership and development, and unless it is common, it will create power conflicts at all levels.
Being an anchor on a national news channel or speaker at prestigious forums on any media platform or an activist on TV or rallies or being a popular YouTuber can make someone eligible to talk on any issue and have their own opinions, with safety systems in check or having the right connections to prevent or protect from personal or professional damage but the large majority of the people will never be safe because not everyone has privileges of power and money.
Those with power and influence must understand their responsibility and their power of voice. Adults who are responsible for children and youth, organising and training for these speaking programs must realise the importance of balanced thinking, the need to have opinions but also being smart and careful on how they express. This would not only protect the children and youth from personal harm but also teach them the importance and the skill of connecting with people, of negotiating, of teamwork, of collaboration, of being effective leaders and influencers who make people think instead of expecting blind following, those who can execute intergenerational leadership.
The 21st-century generation is very opinionated in daily choices like food, clothes, toys, gadgets, vehicles their family owns, the peers they hang out with, the movies they watch, the celebrities they admire, the singers they listen to, their favourite hangout places, their places of learning and so on. Most are choosy and stubborn and many a time parents give in due to social pressure or pressure of other sorts.
However, if parents and schools and colleges don't hold children and youth accountable for their words and actions and they don't teach them to be expressive in a balanced way, then our future is in grave danger of being led by more corporate bullies, more leadership silencing the voices of the masses, more patriarchy and matriarchy dominating our homes, our offices, our nations.