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Adultism com

Adults can help by taking us more seriously and treating us like equals. A host of negative or condescending beliefs about young people reinforce and justify the misuse of adult power.


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See Today's Synonym. Adultism refers to the bias or discrimination adults and social institutions demonstrate against young people on of their youth.

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Most of us are youth workers because we care about young people. Personally we want to both be effective and have good relationships with young people.

We are satisfied when things go well. We feel bad when our relationships sour. Sometimes we scratch our he in dismay when, despite our best efforts and concern, we find ourselves in conflict with young people we work with. To be successful in our work with young people, we must understand a particular condition of youth: that young people are often mistreated and disrespected simply because they are young.

The word adultism refers to behaviors and attitudes based on the assumption that adults are better than young people, and entitled to act upon young people without their agreement. This mistreatment is reinforced by social institutions, laws, customs, and attitudes. If you think about it, you will realize that except for prisoners and a few other institutionalized groups, young people are more controlled than any other group in society.

As children, most young people are told what to eat, what to wear, when to go to bed, when they can talk, that they will go to school, adultism com friends are okay, and when they are to be in the house. If this were a description of the way a group of adults was treated, we would all agree that their oppression was almost total. The essence of adultism is disrespect of the young.

Our society, for the most part, considers young people to be less important than and inferior to adults. It does not take young people seriously and does not include them as decision makers in the broader life of their communities.

Adults have enormous importance in the lives of almost every young person. This fact may make it difficult understand what I am calling adultism. Not everything the adult world does in relation to young people is adultist. It is certainly true that children and young people need love, guidance, rules, discipline, teaching, role modeling, nurturance, protection. Childhood and adolescence are a steady series of developmental stages, each of which has a different set of needs, issues, and difficulties.

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For example, a three year old needs a different amount of sleep than a 15 year old; or, what works to physically restrain a seven year old will not work with an 18 year old; or, how you explain conception and birth to an inquisitive toddler will be quite different from how you explain these to a sexually active teenager. Differing cultural, ethnic, gender, class, or religious approaches to these developmental stages can further complicate the identification of adultism com. The point is that no one act or policy or custom or belief is in itself necessarily adultist.

Something can be labeled adultist if it involves a consistent pattern of disrespect and mistreatment that has any or all of the following affects on young people:. Certainly these serious conditions do not entirely stem from adultism. Other factors like sexism, racism, poverty, physical or mental disability, and so on, may also contribute to these. But systematic disrespect and mistreatment over years simply because of being young are major sources of trouble. They each have a huge body of literature and research documenting the effects and history of the oppression.

What is adultism?

The concept of adultismthe systematic mistreatment and disrespect of young people, is relatively new and has not been adultism com accepted as a reality. There is certainly much research and literature on children and youth, but very little that concludes that young people are an oppressed group in our society, with parallels to other such groups. Part of my effort in this article is to draw forth enough examples, primarily from the United States, to point to the reality of adultism.

Consider how the following comments are essentially disrespectful. What are the assumptions behind each of them? Do you remember having heard any of these as a younger person? There are numerous examples of disrespect toward young people. Of course, there is the obvious oppressive treatment: physical and sexual abuse of young people.

Official reports of child abuse reached 2.

Young people are denied control and often even influence over most of the decisions that affect their bodies, their space, and their possessions. For example, most adults adultism com to think they can pick up little children or kiss them or pull their cheeks or touch their hair without asking or without its being mutual. Most adults talk down to children, as if children could not understand them. Adults often talk about a young person with the young person present as if he or she were not there. Many adults give young people orders to do things or lay down rules with no explanation.

Yet young people are expected to listen to adults all the time.

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The media often promote negative images and stereotypes of them, especially of urban youth and black youth. Schools subject students to incredible control through the use of hall passes, detention, suspension, expulsion, and other penalties. Any community certainly needs rules to live by, but the rules in most school communities are imposed on young people and enforced by the adult staff.

Teachers sometimes yell at students with impunity, but students are disciplined if they yell back at teachers. Young people are sometimes punished unfairly because adults feel frustrated.

Young people have no real power in the important decisions that affect their lives in school. There is a different set of laws for young people. Adultism com do not have the same rights as adults. Of course, some laws specifically protect young people from mistreatment but other laws unduly restrict the life and freedom of young people.

Curfew ordinances that exist in many communities apply to young people but not to adults. In divorce cases, until a recent landmark custody case, young people were not even permitted to have a voice in deciding which parent, if either, they wished to live with. An institutional example of adultism can be found in the literature of child development, which is full of misinformation and unfounded claims about young people that severely underestimates what young people are capable of.

For example, in one classic textbook used by many students of child development, The Magic Years by Selma Freiberg, the author states that the adultism com reason an infant before six months of age cries is because of physical pain. Yet, young child development professionals, often without children, are taught a distorted view of infant functioning as if it were gospel.

Generations of young people in western culture have grown up with their development limited by vast cultural biases that consistently underestimate human potential or misunderstand human development. For example, Joseph Chilton Pierce, in his Crack in the Cosmic Eggfound that in certain Ugandan cultures, infants reach the milestones of sitting, walking, and talking in half the time it takes for children in the United States.

This seems to challenge accepted western norms.

Understanding adultism

Researchers hypothesized two reasons for such seemingly accelerated development:. From the moment of birth until well into the toddler stage, infants spend most of their time strapped skin to skin next to their mothers. From this vantage point the infants intimately experience the rhythms of body movement and speech, the cues in the environment that their mothers paid attention to, and constant tactile closeness.

When not being carried, infants and toddlers were given loving massages for long periods every day by their mothers and other women in the community. The mere existence of such huge differences in the rate of development raises large adultism com about our assumptions about what is normal.

This shock appears to arrest the earlier rapid development, and maturation slows way down. This crippling attitude is gradually forced upon young people. It is like a contagion, a virus about aging. Young people in this country are forced to go to school for 12 years, whether school is an effective learning environment for them or not.

They are forced by law and by parents with the exception of those who exercise the demanding option of home schooling.

Throughout the 12 years, students have no voice, no power, no decision-making avenues to make ificant changes. A adultism com of our educational system is beyond the scope of this article. Another institutional example is the absence of socially responsible, productive, and connected roles for young people in most societies. On the other hand, the youth market is exploited for profit as the manufacturing and entertainment industries manipulate styles, f, popularity, and all other aspects of mass culture.

A handy mirror for reflecting what may be adultist behavior is to ask oneself questions like the following:. For example, I insist that my six year old son hold my hand when crossing the street, but not my 18 year old daughter.

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However, many times there is no justifiable reason for treating a younger person differently except habit and attitude. I hope adultism com short list of examples begins to put our work with adultism com people in a larger context. Most of the examples I used have been reported to me by young people. They consistently report that the main message they get from the adult world is that they are not as important as adults; they do not feel that they are taken seriously; they have little or no power. They say that the emotional legacy of years of this kind of treatment is a heavy load, which can include any or all of the following: anger, feelings of powerless- ness, insecurity, depression, lack of self-confidence, lack of self-respect, hopelessness, feeling unloved and unwanted.

What are some possible of such feelings on their behavior, especially as they get into adolescence and early adulthood? Some gain a sense of belonging or safety by ing a gang, a clique, a club, teams Some isolate themselves, being lonely, not asking for help, not having any close relationships, not trusting. Again, adultism is not the only source of such behaviors, but it surely plays a major role. There is another important reason for understanding and challenging adultism. The various ways we were disrespected and mistreated have, over time, robbed us of huge amounts of our human power, access to our feelings, confidence in our thinking and ability to act, and enjoyment of living.

What’s adultism anyway?

The pain we experience as young people helps condition us, to play one of two roles as we get older: to accept further mistreatment as women, as people of color, as workers, etc. A simple illustration might help make this clear. Picture this: a sixth grader is humiliated by the teacher in front of the class for not doing the math problem at the board correctly. The recess bell rings.