As youth action becomes more sophisticated, a entirely new crop of words are coming into popular use. You may have found some of them scattered throughout www.YoungerWorld.org, but I’m not the first one to use them. Following is some of the language, old and new, that is useful to describe different elements to the movement we belong to, as well as some places to learn more:
Ephebiphobia is the fear of youth or young adults, and is directly related to Pedophobia, which is the fear of infants or children. Both of these fears are directly linked to the demonization of young people, which also leads to infantalization, which means reducing someone to the state or status of an infant. That, in turn, leads to adultism.
Adultism used to be defined as any discrimination against youth; a more comprehensive definition is cited on Wikipedia, which basically says that adultism is howing favor for adult voice over youth voice. The logical alternative perspective is Jeunism, which is the tendency to prefer young people over older people.
Ageism is discrimination against anyone because of their age. Discrimination can be viewed as positive or negative by either party; the purpose of this word is simply to recognize the phenomenom. Looking at the spectrum of ageism, adultism is next to gerontocracy, which is when older people rule, biased against younger people. On the opposite end is gerontophobia, which is the fear of older people.
When it comes to taking action to resist or challenge the negative realities youth face today, there are a lot of alternatives. The first step in any effort is to engage Youth Voice, which is defined as the active, distinct, and concentrated ways young people represent themselves throughout society. As I explore throughout the Washington Youth Voice Handbook, there are countless ways that can happen.
The most powerful form of engaging Youth Voice may come in the form of Participatory Action, which is any activity conducted with or by those affected by the activity, like Participatory Action Rearch. Another avenue is Youth-led Organizing, which summarizes commited efforts driven by young people with support from their peers and/or adults focused on challenging inequities or injustice. At the core of many Youth Voice activities are Youth/Adult Partnerships, which are intentional relationships established between young people and adults designed to foster and support Youth Voice.
There are plenty of other important terms, as well. Among the most popular are service learning, youth rights, youth engagment, youth social entrepreneurship, and more. While many folks are tempted to lump these all together and say they’re the same thing, I think its important to examine the differences. Check out the next blog entry.