There seems to be a growing consensus among academics, critics, social observers, and a host of other people that supports the contention that young people face a range of discrimination for a range of reasons. A recent article explores one of my favorite authors’ perspective on children today:
Novelist Barbara Kingsolver has observed that children have come to hold an increasingly negative position in the economy. Children are spoken of as a responsibility, a legal liability, and an encumbrance – or they are seen in terms of potential profits. Today’s children and adolescents, weaned on images of McDonald’s and toy companies, are targeted as a ripe segment of the market for building powerful brand loyalty for everything from video games to prescriptions for drugs to treat attention deficit disorders. And, if Pogrebin, writing in the early Reagan years, saw child-focused government programs under attack, then Kingsolver, writing 14 years later, had seen many of these same programs ravaged. Funding for virtually every program that benefits children in this country, Kingsolver writes–from “Sesame Street” to free school lunches–has been cut back in the past decade, in many cases cut to nothing. Indeed, programs that support children in the U.S. are, in Kingsolver’s words, the hands-down worst in the industrialized world.
– Stevens, L.P. (2006) “Disrespecting childhood,” Phi Delta Kappan, June 2006.
Coupled with perspectives from Mike Males, Henry Giroux, and organizations like Youth On Board, I am quickly compiling a piece that explores the depth of what I initially addressed as a “War on Youth“. The same article shares a perspective from Letty Cottin-Pogrebin, a founding editor of Ms. magazine, writing that she,
…argued that ‘America is a nation fundamentally ambivalent about its children, often afraid of its children, and frequently punitive towards its children.’ Pogrebin cited attacks on the cost of public education and child health and nutrition programs, along with an inclination to pathologize an entire period in children’s lives–that is, adolescence–to support her contention that the country was afflicted by what she called ‘an epidemic of pedophobia.’
I know that’s a lot to chew on for a Friday night, so I won’t wish you a happy sleep. However, I hope you rest better knowing that I’m busy sourcing the causes of pediaphobia, ephebiphobia, and adultism. There is a brighter day ahead – we just need to name right now what it is, then work from this place towards what it can be.