COLORADO SPRINGS — They may not be able to vote yet, but psychologist and teachers say our teens have been affected by this election, just as much as the adults have.
"Our children and youth are really aware that there is a lot of conflict going on in our country,"said Dr. Jenna Glover, a child psychologists for Childrens' Hospital.
Robert Duensing, a D-11 AP government teacher, says his students felt defenseless because they were unable to vote, so instead hundreds of them participated in a mock election.
"Alot of them say you know if we could vote I'd feel a lot better, Duensing said. "We had close to over 600 kids vote and it was done through their social studies classes."
Since 2004 the teens have been participating in mock elections. Several of the results matched the actual outcome of the presidential races, including the election this year. Duensing says the students picked Biden at the same rate the rest of Colorado did.
When it comes to the statewide measures on the ballot, like Proposition 118, Duensing says the students sided differently than the rest of El Paso County voters.
"Occasionally they skew from how the rest of the community has voted, but for the most part they stayed with the community and how the rest of us voted," Duensing explained. "Family is the number one determinant of your values and the number one determinant of how you are going to vote, so maybe they are voting differently than their parents, I'm not sure."
When it comes to family, Dr. Glover says right now the conversations at home will stick with your teen. It's always best to practice what you preach.
"It's really difficult when we disagree with family, especially because family is like the first frontier,"Glover explained. "I think what would be helpful is for adults to model how to talk about things in a way that shows respect and civility. We can disagree with somebody without them being our enemy and it's really important that we avoid name calling.
Glover says instead, offer a safe space for your teen to talk about their feelings, and Duensing wants that safe space to continue to be his classroom. He continues to encourage political engagement among his students. Thanks to a partnership with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder, the students can also apply to become election judges, and many of them served this past election.
"The students can't wait to vote. They want to learn more and admit that they don't know enough," Duensing said. "Then other times they feel that they aren't given respect when they do know enough."