Becoming Aware of Youth Culture

Culture is anything and everything that makes up the parts of a person’s entire way of living.

Culture is organized into groups, including a person’s geographic location, political identification, sexual orientation, familial makeup, friends, religion, jobs, and AGE. Age is a cultural group because of the traits shared among different age groups throughout society.

Ethnocentrism, racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia are all rooted in these cultural realities. Adultism is too.

Adultism is bias towards adults.

In order to successfully, meaningfully and wholly engage children and youth anywhere, anytime for any reason, adults have to confront our bias towards adults, and the consequence of that: discrimination against young people.

The question of becoming aware of the culture of young people is at the very core of my work for a lot of reasons.

For all that we continue expanding Euro-awareness of the value of indigenous culture; for the cultural expansion towards equitable roles between women and men; for the upsurging awareness of the equal rights of GBLTQQ folks; we’re missing a key element in these conversations, and that’s the cultural shoehorn known as children and youth.

Young people have a distinct and unique culture for many reasons, not the least of which being the routine and systematic segregation of them from society by adults. The culture of young people is almost wholly and constantly neglected, denied and dismissed by adults. They are actually and actively repressed, consequently fostering adultism and the adultcentric nature of schools and homes and businesses and government and, and, and…

That’s why cultural awareness is at the middle of what I do. From my perception, we’re talking about human rights, and the distinct right young people should have to be themselves.

We can and must do better.

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.

 

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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Share the Word!

Help spread the word about my latest book, Ending Discrimination Against Young People. You can share this post, or the webpage, or the Amazon.com page with your friends, family, and colleagues. 

You can also interview me for your blog, write an article about the book, or line me up with any of your contacts to do the same. Contact me today!

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Help Promote Ending Discrimination Against Young People!

You know I’m not the most famous person in the world, right?!?

I don’t have a publicist, and I want people to get a hold of my newest book, Ending Discrimination Against Young People. I need your help!

If you want to pitch in, you can help me by helping get the word out. The biggest help you can do is find one person who needs and wants Ending Discrimination Against Young People. Offer the book to that person, and then if you want to, repeat.


Slower than you want, but faster than you think, we can help stop adultism and end discrimination. Here are some ways to help reach out for my awesome, powerful, strong book, Ending Discrimination Against Young People.

10 Steps to Promote Ending Discrimination Against Young People

1. Contribute to Facebook groups and Web forums—Every field has at least one or two facebook groups and web forums that people who should know about Ending Discrimination Against Young People read. Find and join these forums. Contribute to them freely. Give advice from the book and reach out. Put a link to http://adamfletcher.net in your signature line, or add the name of the book in your signature block.

2. Write a Blog—Writing about the book with helpful, inspirational information from it. Relate your experience and stories to the subjects in Ending Discrimination Against Young People. Aim to inspire people to buy the book, and share the link with them.

3. Write a Remarkable Review—Go to Amazon.com and write a review of the book. You can say things like: “I loved it! This book is amazing!”, and tell your story related to the book. Ending Discrimination Against Young People needs word-of-mouth publicity. Recommend it to your friends. They will recommend it to their friends. This is the best publicity the book can get.

4. Share Stuff from the Media Kit—My online media for the book kit includes

5. Share the Webpage—There’s a full webpage that includes:

  • A link to the Amazon page for your book, so people can buy the book online
  • Your media kit 
  • Book reviews and blurbs
  • My schedule of appearances, including bookstores, speaking engagements and conferences
  • Contact information.
6. Write Articles—Every field has websites and magazines that needs to share Ending Discrimination Against Young People. Find them and tell me about them. You can also write articles about the book for newsletters, websites, magazines, or eZines. Mention Ending Discrimination Against Young People in the article. In online articles, link the book title to its Amazon page so readers can click over and buy the book.

7. Help the Book Get 20 Amazon Reviews—Amazon.com reviews are amazingly effective. Everyone from book buyers to publishers reads them. Our goal is to get at least 20 reviews of Ending Discrimination Against Young People. Contact everyone you know and ask each of them if they would give the book an honest review. Let them know it can be brief. If they agree, let me know and I will send them either a PDF containing a table of contents, two sample chapters, and me bio.

8. Get the Book Mentioned in Email Blasts—Get Ending Discrimination Against Young People mentioned in your org’s large-volume emails. Review the book the email newsletter.

9. Make and Post Online Videos—Make a few 1 or 2 minute video reviewing and promoting Ending Discrimination Against Young People. Put the book title and URL on the bottom of the video screen and in the credits. Post your videos on several of the many video sharing sites including sites like blip.tv, jumpcut, ourmedia, Vimeo, vSocial and YouTube. Share the clips on your website, through your facebook or twitter page, and through emails to your friends and colleagues.
10. Ask for It—Go to your local bookstore and library and ask people to carry the book. Let them know you’re excited about it, share your copy with them, and ask them to carry it themselves. Tell them you’ll personally help others learn about it and send customers and users to them.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU for sharing Ending Discrimination Against Young People with your people. Let me know what I can do for YOU!
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Summary of Ending Discrimination Against Young People

Adam Fletcher has worked with young people and their adult allies since he was a teenager. Speaking and training thousands of youth and adults in schools and organizations across the United States since then, Fletcher has gained a reputation for provocative, empowering approaches to transforming the roles of young people throughout society. In August 2013, the internationally-recognized expert in youth engagement released ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE, a book-length summary of what he says is the most important issue facing all young people everywhere today.

ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE is an unusual social analysis that veers far from the boilerplate by combining meaningful insight with practical steps anyone can take to change the situation. In it, Fletcher recounts several powerful stories of discrimination he has seen along with penetrating practices in families, schools, and even organizations intending to help children and youth today. He also discusses in great detail virtually every major social issue facing young people today, offering his opinion and possible strategies meeting these challenges.

On issues ranging from parenting to commercialization, Fletcher’s stance is one that attempts to find a middle ground between radical youth liberation and what he sees as forced social hierarchy. Fletcher calls for compromise between young people and adults, and new approaches to old assumptions that he contends are undermining well-intended work throughout society. His overarching message is that society is becoming mature enough to re-envision how adults behave towards children and youth, and that its essential to do things differently; however, in order to ensure that opportunities are as effective as they could be for as many people as possible, we have to address negative attitudes and opinions that may be undermining our efforts.

In the introduction to ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE, Fletcher shares the basis of his analysis. “Any honest conversation about engaging young people must address discrimination against young people,” Fletcher writes. He goes on to explain some of his personal and professional experiences with this discrimination, also called adultism. Suggesting that, “We must transform society to engage all young people, everywhere, all the time,” Fletcher lays out the premise of the book by summarizing the world facing children and youth today.

In the first chapter, Fletcher describes the why discrimination against young people exists. Opening the chapter, he uses a classroom story leading to a youth who says, “They hate us because we’re young.” From there, he details the foundation of discrimination against young people by suggesting its grows from infanthood into childhood, young adulthood, parenthood, and old age. He then describes the paternalistic roots of discrimination against young people, which according to Fletcher are rooted in the ways adults perceive them. Describing several of these perceptions, he describes how adults see young people alternatively as products to be made, consumers of adult-driven society, tokens for adults’ self-satisfaction, and as adults-in-the-making. He also details how race, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, and other factors intersect with discrimination against young people.

Fletcher enters into Chapter 2 by demanding we call discrimination against young people what it is, which in a word is adultism. After exploring the essence of that term, he expands the readers’ understanding of the issue by examining different terms and how they relate to the issue. He then explores different age groupings throughout society, and explains how they’re related to understanding adultism. Finally, he recounts the terms by detailing how each of them is apparent through the lives of children and youth today.

In Chapter 3, Fletcher asks what is wrong with discrimination against young people, and proceeds to share many ways. Connecting the phenomenon of adults acting like youth to discrimination, he then expands on many ways adults undermine young people in everyday roles as parents, teachers, youth workers, counselors, and other positions. He shows how adults being over-permissive, well-meaning, over-controlling, indifferent, and hostile towards young people are all similarly disposed to discriminating against young people. Fletcher shows how these practices extend throughout life, and through formal and informal structures, have affected many generations. In order to illustrate systems that affect children and youth, he shows how schools, families, healthcare, the economy, nonprofits, cultural activities, and legal systems all discriminate against young people.

Chapter 4 addresses the causes of discrimination against young people. Both relying on and eschewing theories about human development, Fletcher explores how the differences between young people and adults inherently cause discrimination, as do the differences among children and youth themselves. He then details how obvious discrimination is, especially when young people discriminate against themselves; when adults promote it; when our culture promotes it; and when the structure of society forces it. Fletcher then suggests that not only is does every single adult discriminate against young people, he says it’s not always bad or wrong. He then says the challenge is to stop rationalizing it and start addressing it directly.

Continuing in his expose, Fletcher uses chapter 5 to detail how discrimination happens throughout society. Showing how adults routinely segregate children and youth from adults, Fletcher suggests this silences young people. He says the real risks facing young people aren’t addressed because of this silencing, then shows how different institutions throughout society are framed by discrimination against young people.

Chapter 6 closes the book by suggesting that all children, youth, and adults have a role in ending discrimination against young people. He shows how each person can challenge discrimination by sharing basic techniques. Exploring many of the reasons why discrimination against children and youth must end, he then suggests all actions must begin personally, and then focus on others. He ends the book with calls homes, schools, and nonprofits to the carpet specifically, challenging each with distinct explanations of what they can do.

The end of ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE includes a glossary of more than 25 terms, as well as a list of resources Fletcher recommends for readers to continue their self-study.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Press Release: Youth Discrimination Is Tearing Society Apart!

PRESS RELEASE:
Youth Discrimination Is Tearing Society Apart!

Olympia, WA—Every parent, teacher, and youth worker knows they aren’t as effective as they could be, but often aren’t sure why. Using willpower to force children and youth to comply, even the most well-meaning adult uses curfews, takes away toys, and bribes with rewards.

There’s hope. ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE, by internationally-recognized youth expert Adam Fletcher ($19.95, Createspace Publishing), uses powerful analysis and introduces language related youth discrimination to show readers where, how, and why this problem affects them every single day.

ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE details how society routinely discriminates against young people by forcing adult will, implementing rigid age-based policies, and encouraging negative attitudes towards children and youth. Diving deeply throughout communities, Fletcher exposes cultural assumptions and details structural systems that keep young voices from being heard. He also shows how social injustices such as racism, classism, and sexism are related to discriminating against the young.

“We don’t like to hear it, but every adult discriminates against young people,” Fletcher explains. “Understanding and accepting that reality is the really the first step to creating a more just and equitable society for all people.”

Like many parents and youth workers, Fletcher wondered for a long time why more young people weren’t powerfully, purposefully engaged throughout their own lives. After a decade training youth, Fletcher began to piece together the massive, society-wide patterns of discrimination against young people. When he began finding language throughout psychology, sociology, and youth work describing different parts of this discrimination, he saw a blanket literally smothering children and youth in every corner.

“All young people face these issues, and few people are actually talking about them,” Fletcher explains. “When adults begin to speak frankly about their inabilities to connect with kids, and when children and youth can speak openly, we discover this isn’t just theory; it is actually happening everywhere, all the time.”

ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE is the only modern book designed to explore this reality in depth. What better way to become a better parent, more effective teacher, or more positive role model than addressing your own biases?

With this book, Fletcher hopes adults will, “develop new perspectives of young people to open positive, powerful futures for all people, instead of just a few, so that instead of times getting impossibly hopeless, they show that another world is always possible.” 

Others are taking note of this book. Reviewing the book, Alex Koroknay-Palicz writes, “Fletcher provides an expert look at the revolutionary idea that youth endure, and are harmed by, pervasive age discrimination and supplies supportive advice on how young people and adults can work against it in their daily lives.” Koroknay-Palicz is the former executive director of the National Youth Rights Association. 

To set up an interview or to request a review copy, contact Adam Fletcher at 360.489.9680 or email info@adamfletcher.net. 

ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE
by Adam Fletcher
ISBN-13 978-1492183822

US$19.95 
Paperback 
190 pp. 
8 ½” x 5″
Available on Amazon.com or ask at your local bookstore.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

3 Secrets of Adults Who Help Youth

SeattleYEPC

As teachers, youth workers, parents, counselors, and other adults who work with young people every single day, we have our secrets. They’re not true for every adult, and being able to admit them takes courage, especially when we admit them to other adults we work with.

In my new book, Ending Discrimination Against Young PeopleI explore the need to create safe spaces for honest conversations among adults who work with young people, and parents who are progressive. I am not one to tell others’ secrets; however, here I want to distill some of what I’ve heard and share it with you. These are secrets that many adults who work with young people have told me about the young people they work with.

3 Secrets of Adults Who Help Youth

SECRET #1: Adults don’t trust young people.

Generally, the reason why adults work with young people in any supportive way is that they simply don’t trust them. They don’t believe children and youth can get the supports, experiences, ideas, knowledge, or outcomes adults think they should without the active participation of adults throughout their lives. This is true in the best classrooms and the lovingest homes, as well as the friendliest offices and healthiest workplaces. Ask an adult if this is true, and they’re likely to adamantly deny it. You can tell adults don’t trust youth when they…

  • Make decisions for young people without young people
  • Give young people consequences that wouldn’t be there without those adults’ interventions
  • Use phrases like, “I’m the adult here,” and insist on young peoples’ compliance

 

SECRET #2: Adults almost always think they know best.

An evolutionary mechanism of many creatures, including humans, is called the fight or flight response. The idea is that animals react to threats with a feeling in our nerves that helps us determine whether to fight or flee. I believe adults are almost constantly aware of what they perceive is the compromised ability of young people to respond accordingly to perceived threats. Because of this, there is an evolutionary response within adults that causes us to believe that we need to know the best for ourselves and young people whenever we share company. This is apparent when…

  • Adults limit young peoples’ options “for their own good”
  • Young people are infantalized (treated like infants) no matter what age they are
  • Children and youth constantly defer to adults

 

SECRET #3: Adults are scared of youth.

Any adult who says anything about the future in a negative context is plainly afraid of youth. This is true because they lack the faith, trust, or perspective to see that young people are inheriting a world that is gonna survive. It’s not going to fall apart, stop spinning, or implode at any second. Instead, it’s going to keep on turning, and things are going to work out. This becomes obvious when…

  • Adults talk about “kids today” in a negative sense, or talk about their childhood and youth as if there was nothing wrong, bad, or challenging when they were that age
  • Young people talk, act, dress, or behave like adults in order to make adults more comfortable with them
  • Adults make generalizations about today’s generation
I began this article by talking about adults who work in “helping professions” and parents. The reason why I single these folks out is that first, I am one of both. Secondly, as adults we get into these professions and learn to rationalize our work through many guises, which are the bulletpoints I shared above. But those are the symptoms; the words in bold are the realities.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Ending Discrimination Against Young People by Adam Fletcher

Here’s my new book, ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE. You can learn more here or order it from here.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

An Imperative for Youth Empowerment

What is the missing element in almost all youth empowerment work today? It is an awareness of discrimination against young people.

We don’t like to hear it, but EVERY adult discriminates. While an increasing amount of people are concerned about racism, sexism, classism, or homophobia, that’s not what I’m talking about here. Today, I want you to understand that every day adults discriminate against young people – including YOU and ME.

Discrimination has many definitions, and one of them is the capability to discern difference between two or more things. It is in this way that adults constantly discriminate against young people. That’s not necessarily wrong or bad, but it is true. Adults who don’t discern the difference between them and young people generally have developmental restraints that limit their ability to discriminate. Again, discriminating against young people and being in favor of adults isn’t always bad; it simply IS. Accepting that reality is the first step to creating a more just and equitable society benefiting all people.

When adults don’t have the ability to discern the difference between young people and themselves, or when they either accidentally or intentionally blur or erase those differences, something is out-of-whack with them. Similarly, when the differences are hyper-exaggerated something is out-of-whack, too. Unfortunately, those two things are routine in our society today. 

Recognizing that reality is imperative for creating authentic youth empowerment. Otherwise, adults are simply giving lip service to young people and saying they’re equal, but acting in other ways. They are being disingenuous and inauthentic by going through the motions without any real meaning behind what they’re doing.

If you choose to see yourself or other adults as being devoid of discriminating against young people though your behavior, attitude, actions, and/or ideas, that is up to you. I choose to acknowledge that I’m discriminate against young people. Sometimes that that is a-okay, and sometimes its messed up. That’s me being honest, and this blog is meant I urge you to do the same.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Youth Hyperbole of the Day

Two murders by two sets of teens within a week in two towns somewhere in America: Get ready for the onslaught of generalizations, hyperbole, and overall negative news about the state of youth today.

Once again, we’ll see the media overhype these particular situations to serve their own purposes.

In reality, young people murder young people every day in the US. Young people murder older people, old people murder young people, and old people murder old people. People of European descent murder people of African descent, people of African descent murder people of European descent, people of European descent murder people of European descent, people of African descent murder people of African descent. Rich murder poor, poor murder rich, rich murder rich, poor murder poor.

Guess which of these will get news coverage? The ones that makes the most profit for the media, the advertisers, and the manufacturers who buy advertisements.

On the other end, parents and teachers, youth workers and counselors across the country and even reaching around the world will be left with the further disenfranchisement of their young people. All because a few people will make many dollars off a few particular circumstances that are strung together in a convenient package to form a false image of the state of youth today.

If it isn’t violence, there is a litany of other topics focused on children and youth that are hyped by the media too, including education, healthcare, pop culture, toys, fashion, employment, and much more.

This makes media outlets no different from the rappers they frequently disparage, or the politicians who demonize these events in order to further their careers. However, instead of sensationalizing youth violence today, we need to be talking about how, why, and where discrimination against young people is happening today.

In my new book, Ending Discrimination Against Young People, I explore how the media, schools, governments, and others work together to make their hyperbole sell web ads, mold politicians, drive school agendas, and generally blow up democracy and public well-being every single day.

That’s the real conversation we need to have.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!