Are All Adults Adultist?

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I believe all adults are adultist.

Adultism is bias towards adults – any kind of bias. If an adult wants to hang out with their friends at a bar on Saturday night, they’re being adultist. If an adult lives in a house with children and buys dining room table chairs and a table made for adults, they’re being adultist.

All Adults Are Adultist. If we just THINK about youth, we are being adultist. Without seeing our own adultism, we are being adultist. We stop challenging adultism when we don't take action to address our OWN adultism. Learn more at

10 Signs You’re Adultist

These are signs you are an adultist who practices adultism:

  1. If you say, “You’ll understand when you get older” or other age-oriented statements;
  2. If you force young people to go to school;
  3. If you don’t allow children and youth to choose their clothes, the people they socialize with, or the places they spend their time;
  4. You make decisions about young people without young people;
  5. You make young people do the same work as adults for less or no pay;
  6. You have said, “Because I said so,” to young people;
  7. If you administer standardized tests to students in underfunded schools;
  8. If you are a marketer who sells youth cool things instead of useful things;
  9. If you believe young people should be able to vote until they are over a certain age;
  10. If you’ve ever hung up a sign that sign says, “No two people under 18 without adult supervision.”

These are just some of the signs you’re an adultist. Learn more here.

If an adult wants to play basketball with other adults exclusively, or keeps a child from drinking alcohol, or stops a 15-year-old from driving a car on their own, they are being adultist. Of course, all this discriminates against young people, too, so… I guess it doesn’t matter how you define it. All adults are adultist.

Should adults stop being adultist tomorrow? Is all adultism bad or wrong? Does this mean this is a kafkatrap like Jesse proposed? No, no, and no. However, it does mean that if we’re going to address adultism in any serious way, we have to get honest about what it is and stop demonizing adults because of it.

Adultism is any bias towards adults, and all adults are adultist. Start from there?

The problem with “extracting power from adults and into youth” isn’t a solution though Elijah, for the reason you emphasize at the end. Youth aren’t the solution, in and of themselves. No one group is the solution. The saying, “Nobody is free until everybody is free” applies here.

Adultism is actually an oppression that affects adults negatively as well as youth and children. EVERYONE is affected by it; ergo, everyone needs to be freed from its shackles.

What Can Be Done

I’ve learned that these shackles won’t be released solely through legal challenges or organizational development or curriculum writing or local action.

Instead, we have to raise the consciousness of every single child, youth and adult we interact with through education. Share a book. Write an article. Teach a class. Give a lecture. Facilitate a workshop. Host a forum. Organize a sit-in. But in some way, raise individuals’ consciousness so they become passionate and aware of the challenges they face because of adultism.

In time, all the structural restraints will melt away – but only because the hearts and minds of people have transformed, making the structure of adultism irrelevant and worthless.

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Published by Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker and writer who researches, writes and shares about youth, education, and history. Learn more about me at

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