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.