Ageism, Adultism, & More

Today, as I continued to quench my thirst for knowledge via Wikipedia, I came across a pattern of discrimination that jarred me. As I was working on the ephebiphobia article, I decided to search a few research databases for background info. Low and behold, I struck upon a massive study conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK that examined paedophobia, which is a term they coined for… the fear of youth – which is how ephebiphobia is defined. Its awesome that the identification of the pattern is becoming prevailant; its damned that we now have redundant terms.

In the course of reading about that study, I learned about pedaphobia, or the extreme fear of infants and/or small children. That reminded me that I’d read another Wikipedia article about the fear of elderly people, which is called gerontophobia. Then, it hit me: There is in our society a “continuum of ageism” that binds us together in a kind of joint trauma, causing us to both suffer and perpetuate oppression throughout our lives. We all suffer it, and we all perpetuate it.

This continuum is at the heart of adultism, allowing us to consciously prefer working with adults instead of anyone else, younger or older. Another Wikipedia find: The term gerontocracy, historically used as a polticial term refering to a ruling class of 70 and 80+ year-olds, could be said to be an extension of adultism into old age, where elders choose their own over any other age, at the expense of the “others” loosing their ability to participate in whatever the activity is.

Just something to consider. Right now I’m still pounding away on the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum, and I better get back to work. More on that project soon…

Published by Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker, writer, trainer, researcher and advocate who researches, writes and shares about education, youth, and history.

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