Youth activism is engagement by the youth voice in community organizing for social change. Around the world, young people are engaged in activism as planners, researchers, teachers, evaluators, social workers, decision-makers, advocates and leading actors in the environmental movement, social justice organizations, campaigns supporting or opposing legalized abortion, and anti-racism, anti-homophobia and pro gay rights campaigns. As the central beneficiaries of public schools, youth are also advocating for student-led school change and education reform through student activism and meaningful student involvement.
In many societies, teenagers are shut out of participation in politics by the domination of adults. However, youth are also concerned and informed citizens who can advocate for change within their communities. Youth is an elastic category, the age at which it begins and ends varies within cultural contexts, but it is often a very distinct stage in a person’s life to which particular issues or policies are highly relevant. These may include politics, health, sexuality, and social issues.
The education youth receive and obtain is important to their role as activists. Education teaches youth to be engaged and feel like a community. Young people are the future of their society; they are attracted to the hope and promise of building new futures and better lifestyles. The problems and issues occurring now will effect the youth in the future. Therefore, youth have an incentive to advocate for change in society. As the United States becomes more globalized, one may discover youths around the world being activists for important issues.
Sociopolitical development is a “psychological process that covers the range of cognitions, skills, attitudes, worldviews, and emotions that support social and political action” (Watts, Griffith, & Abdul-Adil, 1999).  The process of SPD was further defined by Watts & Flannagan “to impact young people’s social analysis, worldview and sense of agency and to provide them opportunity structures and support towards their societal involvement behavior (2007).” 
There are three main forms of youth activism. The first is youth involvement in social activism. This is the predominant form of youth activism today, as millions of young people around the world participate in social activism that is organized, informed, led, and assessed by adults. Many efforts, including education reform, children's rights, and government reform call on youth to participate this way, often called youth voice. Youth councils are an example of this.
The second type is youth-driven activism requires young people to be the primary movers within an adult-led movement. Such is the case with the Sierra Club, where youth compel their peers to join and become active in the environmental movement. This is also true of many organizations that were founded by youth who became adults, such as SEAC and National Youth Rights Association.
The third type is the increasingly common youth-led community organizing. This title encompasses action which is conceived of, designed, enacted, challenged, redesigned, and driven entirely by young people. There is now global initiative by youth in international movements, such as in the International Youth Rights, the first entirely student-run, non-profit, non-political, international movement organization, which was founded in 2009 by Seung Woo Son, a South Korean youth living in China. Working closely with Ms. Kim, the Director for Education Development at UNICEF Korea, the organization strives to make the youth’s opinions, experiences and their suggested solutions to the world issues be heard across the world and to actualize their solutions in real life, for all to realize what youth can do to make an impact in the world. The World Federation of Democratic Youth is also another international movement, which has UN NGO status. I final example is the iMatter Movement, an entirely youth-lead environmental advocacy organization.
Global youth activism 
Youth activism is present throughout the world. People under the age of 18 comprise 46% of the global population. The way youth protest and create communities with the same issues is similar all around the world. In this section one can see that youth activism is very similar around the world. Youth are getting involved more and more.
The first few years of the 2010s have seen an increase in youth activism throughout the Global South. In India, youth born in the 1980 and 1990s comprise part of a middle-class increasingly vocal against impunity for rapists and against government corruption. Young adults in Iran defy the official regime's cultural and political policies through engaging in prohibited activities in places like taxi rides, coffee shops, and basements. Such actions re-imagine Iranian reality in ways that contest regime policies. In Venezuela, university students constituted a primary, well-trusted anti-Chávez political force. Youth provided central to the Egyptian Revolution and the April 6 Movement. Other areas with intensive youth activism include Latvia and Czech Republic.
South Africa 
A challenge for the younger generations in South Africa is the AIDS pandemic. 53% of South Africa’s population is under the age of twenty-five. Around 60% of adults who contract HIV become infected before they turn twenty-five, meaning youth are particularly endangered. To advocate and protest about HIV/AIDS, South African youth known as "urban warriors" have created social movements that use youth culture, media, and peer-to-peer campaigns to advocate for HIV/AIDS. A classic example of youth engagement in political activism is the Soweto riots. To the people in South Africa, June 16 is a constant reminder of the political events that occurred in 1976. In 1976 on June 16, when teachers started instructing in Afrikaans, the language of their oppressors, children took the streets for a peaceful demonstration. The police reaction was brutal and that day at least twenty-five people were killed. The violence continued and spread all across the country. 575 people died by the end of the year and 2,389 were wounded.
Youth activism in Indonesia takes many different forms and include a number of mass protests to overthrow governments and remove colonial powers in the past. Popular motivations of youth activism in Indonesia are: indigenous rights and national unity, pro-communism, anticommunism, pro-democracy and militant Islam. A common form of activism is massa, a cavalcade of motorcycles, trucks, music, and many young people on foot. These cavalcades are mostly males and end with a rally to address a certain political leader. In general, youth have been looking for political change during the last four decades.
Throughout the 1990s, youth took the streets to protest against Serbian leader, Slobodan Milošević. With their creativity and political savvy the youth activist fought for ten years against this leader, eventually forcing his resignation. During the years of protests youth faced unemployment, a failing education system, and economic instability. After these horrible years, young men and women came together and listened to music and watched movies; this festival was called EXIT. This festival lasted one hundred days and led up to elections in September of 2000. Finally the youth wanted something more for them and was ready for change. This music festival created a civic education component. Today, EXIT is still going on.
Saudi Arabia 
In the case study, Monologue With The Prince shows how youth citizens of Saudi Arabia want to be very involved with issues and have a voice but are told not too. Citizens who live in Saudi Arabia are exited from paying taxes and provided with free state-funded education and health care. With these privileges come rules and duties. Citizens receive these privileges in exchange for absolute submission to the rulers. Therefore, freedom of speech and press is not a right here for a citizen. In this study, a student was chosen as one of the six students who got to attend the Expeditionary Forum for Nation Dialogue. He said, “this forum was supposed to tackle issues of tolerance, development, and—remarkably for Saudi Arabia—free expression.” The last speaker to talk was the Prince of Mecca, he gave a speech about how great it is in Saudi Arabia and all the rights citizens have. A year after the Forum, the student started his own blog to share his viewpoints and feelings. Many of his friends and family warned him not to because most people who go against these rules are put in jail. He ignores his family and friends concerns and continues to write about his issues and thoughts. This is one example on how youth use activism in their lives.
United States 
Youth activism as a social phenomenon in the United States truly became defined in the mid- to late-nineteenth century when young people began forming labor strikes in response to their working conditions, wages, and hours. Child laborers in the coal mines of Appalachia began this trend, with newspaper carriers, soon following. These actions isolated youths' interests in the popular media of the times, and separated young people from their contemporary adult labor counterparts.
This separation continued through the 1930s, when the American Youth Congress presented a "Bill of Youth Rights" to the US Congress. Their actions were indicative of a growing student movement present throughout the US from the 1920s through the early 1940s. The 1950s saw the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee bring young people into larger movements for civil rights. This led to the outbreak of youth activism in the 1960s.
Important individuals in U.S. youth activism 
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones organized the first youth activism in the U.S., marching 100,000 child miners from the coal mines of Pennsylvania to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. in 1908. In 1959, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. engaged youth activists in protesting against Bull Connor's racist law enforcement practices in Birmingham, Alabama. Coupled with the youth activism of Tom Hayden, Keith Hefner and other 1960s youth, this laid a powerful precedent for modern youth activism. John Holt, Myles Horton and Paulo Freire were each important in this period.
In recent years, educators such as the Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, Howard Zinn, Alfie Kohn, and Jonathan Kozol have all called for young people to become central actors in the guidance of schools and communities. Modern advocates have included Aaron Keider, William Upski Wimsatt and Adam Fletcher. Researchers, including Shawn Ginwright, David Driskell, Barry Checkoway and Lorraine Gutierrez have led the burgeoning study of modern youth activism.
See also 
- Checkoway, B. & Gutierrez, L. (2006) “An introduction,” in Checkoway & Gutierrez (eds) Youth Participation and Community Change. New York: Hawthorne Press. p 3.
- Sherrod, Lonnie R (2006). Youth activism: an international encyclopedia, Volume 2. Greenwood Publishing Group.
- Noguera, Pedro (2006). Beyond Resistance! Youth Activism and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America's Youth. CRC Press.
- Sherrod, Lonnie R (2006). Youth activism: an international encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group,.
- Watts, R. J., Griffith, D. M., & Abdul-Adil, J. (1999). Sociopolitical Development as an Antidote for Oppression—Theory and Action. American Journal of Community Psychology, 27(2), 255-271.
- Watts, R. J., & Flanagan, C. (2007). Pushing the envelope on youth civic engagement: A developmental and liberation psychology perspective. Journal of Community Psychology, 35(6), 779-792.
- Chawla, L. (2002) Growing Up in an Urbanizing World. Paris/London: Earthscan/UNESCO Publishing.
- Wolf, Linda (2001). Global Uprising: Confronting the Tyrannies of the 21st Century : Stories from a New Generation of Activists. New Society Publ.
- Jeffrey, C. 2013. Geographies of children and youth III: Alchemists of the revolution? Progress in Human Geography 37(1): 145-152.
- Chandrashekar, V. 2013. "Could gang-rape protests mark beginning of an age of activism for India?" The Christian Science Monitor. January 3, 2013. Web. Date Accessed: 2013/03/07.
- Khosravi, S. 2008. Young and Defiant in Tehran. University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 169-170, 174
- Rozo, E. 2012. "Venezuela's Student Movement" ReVista. Accessed. 3.7.13.
- Alievikj, Stefan (18 May 2012). "Street Workout Activism in Latvia". Mladiinfo.
- Karabova, Marta (4 July 2011). "Strong without violence". Mladiinfo.
- Ahmari, Sohrab. Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice from North Africa to Iran. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.