Adults and Youth as Equals?

Earlier today on the anti-adultism Facebook group I was asked, “is your goal to have children and young adults (which I believe you define as 13 to 19) treated exactly as we would treat adults?”

My answer is absolutely not.

I believe that all young people – all children and youth – are unique and powerful as young people, and because of all the different representations they carry, including their race, gender, socio-economic class, educational levels and everything. They have value because of their age and their voices and involvement of all kinds.

Acknowledging the ideas, perspectives, knowledge and experiences of young people is *not* equality – its equity. Equity calls for acknowledging the uniqueness and difference between people, and then creating the spaces, relationships and cultures needed to foster positive, meaningful relationships that embrace that uniqueness and difference and allows them to be utilized for the individual and collective good of those who participate.

Fighting adultism requires nothing less than each of us taking personal responsibility for the bias and discrimination we feel against young people and towards adults. Let me restate that: I believe that we favor adults at the expense of listening/engaging/empowering young people. I believe we have to create new relationships – partnerships and allyships – that re-envision the roles young people occupy throughout society.

So long story short, my own goal is not to have children and youth treated exactly as we would treat adults. Instead, its to engage young people and adults in working together to create new roles for young people throughout society.

That’s what I’m all about – I would love to hear what anyone else thinks!

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

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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