Well-Meaning, but Demeaning

As they try to emphasize the declining condition of the world today, the media regularly infantalizes young people – meaning that for one reason or another, the media makes young people seem like babies. Unfortunately, the same media hugely influences the thinking of parents, youth workers, teachers, government officials, and politicians, all of whom exert almost total power over the lives of children and youth.

Today’s evidence comes from a report by ABC News, which is duly titled “Waiting for the World to Change.” In an expose on Camden, New Jersey, the reporter uses the perspectives of three young people to illustrate the startling contrasts between their daily reality and the supposed bliss of middle-class America. The title itself implies that children and youth are simply passive recipients of whatever adults dish out, good or bad. The problem of this challenge is unfortunately made worse by headlines that highlight the Bush Administration’s cuts to funding for programs that benefit young people, including education, health care and community programs. While its important to spread this word, its unforunate and ill-thought to position young people as helpless.

There are so many alternatives to this kind of posturing, and what is most frustrating is that while those alternatives exist, people are either not aware they exist, or in denial of their existence. Talking about that is another post for a different day.

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