The Cultural Effects of Adultism

For a while, I’ll be writing about different ways adultism effects people for my forthcoming book on discrimination against children and youth. I have studied a number of ways adultism effects young people, adults, and whole communities. This is a summary of what I’ve found.The Cultural Effects of Adultism on Organizations

Every nonprofit, government agency, and community group that wants to serve young people needs teamwork and cooperation to get things done. The use of adultist language and the culture of adultism spread throughout this work is a demoralizing force. When adultist language condescends a young person in a program, all children and youth in that program can feel devalued and not part of the team. That demoralization will in turn lessen their response to programs, the output of the program, and young peoples’ commitment to the program, it’s mission, and the vision behind it.

In my years of work, interviews with thousands of young people and adults, and observations as an international consultant, I have seen adultism create environments where young people unconsciously fear that their genuine feelings, words, actions, and ideas will confirm the stereotypes against them that are believed by adults. This fear can cause young people to either act like adults in order to gain their approval, or act in other non-age appropriate ways. As a consequence, all young people suffer from having too-high expectations thrust upon them, or too-low responsibilities.

Learn more about adultism on The Freechild Project website.

Let me know what you think in the comments section! If you’re interested, you can read the complete paper this is taken from called Adultism Kills: The Effects of Discrimination Against Children and Youth on Nonprofits 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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