Social Change for the Free Child

Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child.—A. S. Neil


Society needs a radically different vision for how we view children and youth. The absence of fear can only come about through a new treatment of all young people everywhere, all the time.

Over these years of working with young people in all the ways I have, one pattern consistently emerges more than any other: The very nature of how we view children and youth in our different cultures seems poorly envisioned, malconstructed, and at the least, misinformed. At the worst it seems oppressive and alienating, only serving to further damage the fabrics of the society we share.

Fostering Social Change

For too long well-meaning adults have said, “youth are the future”, without seeing that they’re the present, too. Recently, it’s become vogue to view children and youth as too far gone, or too disconnected, or too apathetic. We have constructed school systems that are sub-par, allowing only those students whose learning styles readily conform to succeed. Our social networks, including families, technologies, and communities, segregate young people from adults, and from one another, disconnecting potential from reality, and hope from action. And it gets worse.

The great experiment in democracy that made America an ideal to nations and revolutionaries worldwide has become a cloak for corporatism propagated through crass consumption, with oppressions of all sorts used to deepen the pockets of the hyper-wealthy, while middle- and working class Americans are mired in the prospects of a darker tomorrow everyday. The structures that used to support upward mobility are now used to reinforce class differentiation, including the education system that engages so many of our young people. Youth programs reinforce entrenched views of young people as incapable recipients of adults’ so-called good intentions, which are often thinly veiled reinforcements of adultism and adultcentrism.

We must radically re-envision the roles of young people throughout society, and reposition them as complete humans who are evolving in respect to the society they’re part of. This is essential to any work that truly seeks to engage young people as social change agents, and should inform every single adult ally’s perspective and actions with, for, and towards children and youth. Democracy demands that we find the essence and potential of every human every single day, and children and youth are people, not puppies. They are fully able to be democrats who are fully engaged throughout society.

Social Change for the Free Child 

The end of all age-based segregation in our society, including:

  • Eliminating voting ages
  • End of compulsory education
  • Routine appointments for children and youth to governmental positions
  • Eliminating national service age requirements
  • Public education campaign on ending adultism
  • Ending economic age segregation, including banking requirements
  • Ending public age discrimination, including age restrictions in stores.
The full engagement for every member of society, including:
  • Full citizenship for every young person
  • Obligated voting for all citizens
  • The elimination of non-citizen discrimination through automatic citizenship for all
  • Full civic responsibilities, opportunities and rights for every member of society
  • Full political representation of young people in all levels of governance to justify the youth taxation
  • Fully-funded, free, public education for every citizens of any age at will.

Future of the Free Child

These are just the beginning of the radical changes necessary to engage all members of society, particularly children and youth. Each must be challenged, advocated, re-envisioned, and reconstituted by every succeeding generation of society. All must be seen as essential to begin with.

It is only when we begin this conversation in earnest that programs and projects promoting any form of civic engagement will be valid, valuable, and fully authentic. It is only then that we can begin thinking about what the Free Child actually is.

Discover HOW to create social change for the free child at

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

2 responses to “Social Change for the Free Child”

  1. How do you reconcile “The end of all age-based segregation in our society” with “Compulsory education for under-14 year-olds”?


  2. Jesse, you don’t! I messed up when I was typing that section, and I have went in and fixed it now. Thanks for pointing that out!


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