Too Young to Vote...But Old Enough to Care

10/11/2016 11:27 am ET Updated Oct 12, 2017

Hey, middle school girl. Yeah, the girl hiding behind her bangs and pretending to ignore the presidential election. We see you. People think that because you're too young to vote this November, you're too young to care about the issues or the outcome. Well, informed women everywhere have a message for you: Cut the bangs. You are absolutely old enough to care.

Middle school girls have a unique ability to see with #nofilter clarity which issues resonate in their own school elections - what slogans stick and which posters get ripped down. You understand how lunchroom dynamics work...who sits with whom and why. You sense the wordless cues that reserve certain tables, decide current trends and determine class presidents.

So when you watch what's happening on the national stage, we know you get it. You just don't think you can change it. And after all, if you can't vote, why even care?

Ah, but girls...you underestimate yourselves. And because you are wiser than you think and far more motivated than you admit - yeah, your secret is safe with us - the following words are for you:

It's time to care.

Here's the thing: Presidential elections represent a transfer of leadership - a special way of handing power from one group to another. It's insanely important. And regardless of which candidate you or your parents prefer - and, newsflash...those don't have to be the same - the fact that you're not old enough to vote does not mean you're not old enough to care.

In fact, it's the opposite. You - the girl who sees the world around her with keen eyes and a quick mind - are 100% old enough to care about this election. So listen up.

Campaign issues arise because there are underlying problems to be solved. And anyone...anyone...with good ideas, creative solutions and the power of their convictions should jump in. But even middle schoolers know that the way those ideas are presented - the tone, the language, the cliques included or excluded in the proposed solutions - are the things that make you respect or ignore the kid holding the mic at assembly.

So even if you are in middle school and too young to vote, you're not too young to care. We're not saying you should listen to every news report or watch every debate - in fact, we'd recommend skipping some. We're saying find a variety of teen-focused news sources and start to read 'em all. We're saying think hard about the big issues that matter most to you - maybe equal rights, clean water, better schools - and find a way to get involved. Learn about problems in your community, volunteer in a local election...run for class president. We're saying, think about the type of candidate you'd want to emulate...the kind of leader you want to be.

Seriously, care.

But don't care because of how loudly someone yells or who they sit with at lunch. Care because there are real problems to be solved, and the solutions will affect you much sooner than you think. Care because you and your friends are going to run this place someday...so it's not too soon to get informed, form opinions and care. Elections matter. Climates are changing. Peace is important. Time to care, girls. Care like crazy.