In conflicted societies and in societies that have glossed over major historical abuses, civic cultures often become characterised by sensitive issues being conscientiously avoided. This avoidance contributes to separations and inequalities among residents and communities, and prevents the establishment of policies that build trust and promote integration across lines of separation. In such societies young people are seen as problems, not assets, in public discourse. Such mental models disable a reconstructive, future oriented policy climate where young people experience being of value. This special issue argues for policies and practices that challenge this pessimistic common sense about what young people can contribute. It stresses the importance of restorative and intergenerational practices in the building of just societies. The articles further emphasize the importance of adopting principles of respect and inclusivity as cornerstones of policy, promoting youth-adult partnership and other devolved models of leadership in civic life, all within the larger context of explicitly working to secure more open, shared and interdependent societies.