Stopping Discrimination Against Children

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Stopping Discrimination Against Children

Recently, a young person from Finland wrote to me for an interview. They wanted to discuss discrimination against children.

Following are the questions they asked and my responses. Let me know what you think in the comments section!

What is child discrimination to you?

Discrimination against children happens anytime adults are biased towards adults. That means that whenever our words, our actions, our thoughts, and our ideas favor adults before children, children are being discriminated against. In order to stop child discrimination, YOU have to define it for yourself.

When was the last time you saw it happen? What was happening?

Discrimination against children happens every single time children and adults interact. This includes almost every parent/child, teacher/student, clerk/customer and caretaker/charge relationship. Discrimination against children happens in schools, at home, in businesses, in afterschool programs, in government agencies, in courts, at the playground, on the athletics field, in neighborhoods and throughout all of our society, all of the time.

  • Discrimination against children happens in the words adults use: Jargon, insistence on manners, and saying things like “You’re in my house and you’ll follow my rules” or “You’ll understand when you’re older” or “Children are better seen and not heard.”
  • Discrimination against children happens in the actions adults take: Building schools and houses at adult heights instead of childrens’, making curriculum and tests to meet dream-up adult wants rather than genuine child needs, and corporeal punishment.
  • Discrimination against children happens in the thoughts adults have: “I’m her parent and I know best”, “I’ll do what I want done here and convince her that its right later on”, and “They’ll just have to do this now whether they like it or not” are some of the thoughts adults have.

I explore all this in-depth in my book, Ending Discrimination Against Young People.

Have you even been discriminated in your life? If so how?

Whether or not we acknowledge it, every single person has been discriminated against in their lifetime. Discrimination is any judgment against anybody, including those made because of our ages, genders, skin colors, socio-economic statuses, cultural backgrounds, religions and more.

I’ve been discriminated against for many reasons, including my age when I was young, and my age now that I’m older.

What are you doing to stop discrimination?

I write books and pamphlets, facilitate workshops and give speeches to help educate people about discrimination against children and youth. My books include Ending Discrimination Against Young People as mentioned a moment ago; A Short Introduction to Youth Rights; and more than a dozen others.

What are ways people can stop it everyday?

As I’ve explained here, discrimination against children is a huge thing that affects everyone. The very best thing that anyone of any age can do to stop it is to listen to themselves, watch themselves and stop themselves from discriminating against children. EVERY ONE OF US discriminates against children, including children. We should listen to our thoughts and words, and hear ourselves discriminating against children. We should watch our actions and see how we discriminate against children. If we choose the company of adults before children, we’re discriminating against children.

After we’ve seen and heard our discrimination against children, we have to ask whether we’re okay with it. If we are okay with it, we don’t have to stop it. But if we’re really not okay with it, we should confront our own discrimination against children whenever, however we can. Then, and only then, should we encourage others to do the same thing.

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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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

3 thoughts on “Stopping Discrimination Against Children

  1. The expression ” You’re in my house and you’ll follow my rules” , how is that discrimination towards children/youth/teens ? Please explain. Thanks.


    1. How would you like it, I ask, if a roomate told you “You are in my home, so you are my property. I command you regardless of what your natural abilities and worth are.”
      That sort of treatment is what WE deal with every day. Children and teens, the latter of which I am, are treated like animals; yea, lower than animals, for at least animals recieve some degree of autonomy, if their owners are not abusive. Yet even the kindest parent perpetuates this foul practice, simply because of the erroneous belief that children cannot care for themselves. This is not true. Beyond infanthood, children are capable of following their own instincts, making their own food, and at varied points, holding talents with which they could earn their own income; if they only had the right.
      But no! We hear instead “Stay in school, stripling. You have no business acting like an adult.”
      Is that not the goal of life? And on the matter of our abilities; do not adults themselves make many mistakes? A scientist or engineer’s job is to experiment with many different techniques, observe faliures, and make corrections. They suffer the same stress endured by the young; but when a youth attempts a work of their own, in its basic and original form it is rejected, depending on quality, because of the age of the person responsible. I cannot live in a world where this sort of treatment is tolerated. I must now live an adult life remembering two decades at the beginning of my existence during which I was treated like a mere animal, or a lesser citizen. And for now, I have no income on which to build my adult life, simply because I have been denied access to jobs on account of my age. So indeed, ageism affects the adult life. It can in many ways be traced to a of the psychological and financial issues that everyone faces in adulthood. Give me liberty or give me death, at any age. I will not be treated as the property of my parents.


  2. Thank you so much for your marvelous statement. I will have to purchase your books as soon as may be. I myself am seventeen at the moment, and from potential careers, to social interactions, to even my own household, I have been the near-constant victim of this dreadful practice. I have been denyed employment, despite my very-real social skills and logistical abilities, simply because I selected “no” when asked if I was eighteen. I have been treated like an animal by both of my parents, forced to endure their constant ridicule and to lock myself in a small space when they are displeased. I have even been physically beaten and assailed when I stood up for my own rights. I feel, essentially, like a slave, a slave with no purpose. And what is my hope for escape? Far from recieving my own income, so that I can free myself from this torment of youth, I have no choice, no easy choice at least, but to join the rest of the herded bunch in adult-run institutions where I learn intangible skills based on adult expectations, revealed to me piecemeal and over a span of twelve to twenty years, and otherwise am denied any major employment for percieved “lack of experience.” I feel like an animal under this treatment, worse than any racism or other discrimination, and worse still I know that nearly everyone on earth is born into this state of cruelty. I hope for a world someday where children of all ages are given at least semi-autonomous rights and permitted to recieve their own incomes, through any means. There are children I know who possess ingenious artistic abilities, social skills, and physical capabilities which would serve marvelously in a work environment, and yet are denied simply because their lives are at the behest and disposal of elders. And I know that this treatment will improve as I age; but for how long? Not only will I suffer the scars of being treated as a lesser creature for the first two decades of my life, and seek fulfillment in areas which I would not otherwise need, but I also know that eventually, as I age, I will only suffer this treatment again when I have aged past my prime. It seems to me that ageism, against youths and elders alike, remains the most prevalent form of discrimination in the world, and even activists against it perpetuate it further. This must end. Ageism is primitive and inhumane, a leftover trait from the days of our quasi-chimpanzee ancestors, who ate their own young, beat and attacked their elders, and respected only males in their prime. I would hate to see a world where such practices are perpetuated.


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