THERE'S a reason why some of the voices that have stirred us most this year have been the young. Take 15-year-old Greta Thunberg the climate change activist whose speech at last week’s UN climate summit went viral. Addressing world leaders and other grown-ups, she said, “You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”

Thunberg, an autistic schoolgirl in pigtails, reminded us of how, so far, we had failed ¬ how adults had messed up the world for her and her imagined children. “You only talk about moving forward with the same ideas that got us into this mess,” she accused, “even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency break. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children.”

She said all this and, online, the world listened. Why? Because we know we messed up – and sometimes it takes a child to tell us how badly we messed up.

Earlier, this year, in the United States, we watched as another young person, Emma Gonzalez, took the microphone at a gun control rally, just days after she survived the tragic shooting at her high school, in Parkland. She spoke through her tears and called “BS” on the government. “They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS.”

Why did we want to listen to Gonzalez? Partly because it helped us process our own shock at the shooting. But also because we knew that a generation and a political system had failed those children. The adults out there had not, and were not, doing nearly enough.

Frequently, I find myself impressed by the campaigning young. Recently, Children In Scotland, published their 25 calls to change children’s lives for the better. Among those calls was an interview with nine-year-old Ruby, who had been so annoyed at the impracticality of the clothes for girls in a catalogue, that she wrote to the company. She said: “I am writing to inform you that I am a bit upset because some of the captions in the girls section are suggesting that girls cannot do some stuff and that only boys can. I am upset because I am a real girl who can climb trees.”

Young anger is also part of what we have seen in recent weeks in France, where young adults high school students, have joined the yellow vests protests that have swept the country. One of the most powerful recent images has been footage of young high school protestors being made to kneel by riot police. These students hadn’t started this diverse wave of fury, but they were making their mark on it – and redefining it.

The world, it seems to me, has only just started to wake up to the idea that we need to listen more to our young. And I don't just mean the very young like Thunberg and the Parkland students, I also mean the younger Millennials. We need to listen to them, in part, because like the so-called “left behind” they have been hitherto not listened to enough. We need to pay attention because they economically bear the brunt of recent politics. Above all we need to listen because they are so good at cutting through the BS.

I've noticed more and more when at debates that the most furious statements, the questions that silence the room, come from young people under the age of thirty, or even still younger. Thunberg is a reminder of how important their voices are, and the necessity that we do respond. We are all, of course, the children of generations of failure and messing up, of past bad politics and poor decisions – as well as some good ones. But it’s up to those in power to grapple with that past and present. We too – and not just the kids – need to call out the BS.

Oops. Looks like Donald Trump, ever the rule breaker, didn't pay any attention to the three cardinal rules of regifting. His own son, Donald Trump Jr, last week revealed that he was a regifter. “There was one Christmas, “Junior said, “where he may or may not have given me the gift I had given him the year before because I had monogrammed it. And I’m like, ‘I know you didn’t get this,’ ‘How do you know that?’ ‘Because I gave it to you last year.” I might suggest a few guidelines to The Donald for next time. One. Make sure that the person you are giving it to is not the original giver. Regifting does not mean returning it rewrapped to the person who gave it to you in the first place. Two. Don't regift things that are opened or half-used. I remember my parents once being accidentally given back a bottle of whisky they'd gifted the year before. To add insult to injury it had already been opened – a small dram drunk. Three. Gifts with monograms or personal messages are really only for a specific person. Three. Regifting should not be about inflicting some useless piece of junk onto another member of your family or friendship group, even if it is monogrammed. Some things only deserve to be passed on to the unending school tombola in the sky.