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Teaching Citizenship to Kids in an Era of Attack Ads

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by

Father Steven Boes, Boys Town National Executive Director 

Teaching Citizenship to Kids in an Era of Attack Ads

I am so tired of seeing attack ads from politicians. Between all the name calling and unsupported claims, what are we modeling to our kids? That if you tear a person down enough, people will like you more? I don’t think so, and I know most parents don’t either.

At Boys Town we instead find ways of teaching youth citizenship through class elections. Each year since 1935, the youth of Boys Town elect a Mayor and Vice Mayor from the upcoming senior class. In order to run for mayor, there are a few guidelines a candidate must abide to:

  • Respect all other candidates
  • Your campaign can only last two weeks
  • Candidates cannot make promises they can’t keep
  • No food as campaign incentives or gimmicks
  • You can’t post more than a certain number of flyers and posters

Wouldn’t it be nice if we only had to stomach political ads for the two weeks leading up to the election?

More than likely your kids have seen attack ads and have questions. Take this opportunity to talk politics and appropriate behavior with your kids. You can also use the time to discuss why you support certain candidates or positions and how your faith influences your political decisions.

Election season can be a very exciting time – just make sure your child is learning positive skills rather than the negative ones so often on display.

Check out these links to learn more on Boys Town’s mayoral election and its self-government history.