favoring adults by dismissing young people.
Adultism is also the addiction to the attitudes, ideas, beliefs,
and actions of adults. Adultism promotes the
discrimination of children and youth, and bias
It is a major
in how society is organized: By assuming
children and youth do not have anything of
substance or value to add to the majority of
social activities, adults keep their power
intact. Adultism happens in government,
education, social services, religious
communities, and families. It is present in our
laws, legal practices, economic activities, and
the ways we share our cultures.
There is value to
adultism, as adults sometimes act more
responsibly and capably than young people.
However, adults often act as if children and
youth are never responsible and never
capable. That is the problem.
Adultism ignores, silences,
neglects, and punishes children and youth simply because they are not
adults. Every young person experiences adultism
from the day they are born until the day the
world around them recognizes them as an adult.
Every adult in our society today has experienced
Because of this
unconscious sharing of the same experiences,
adults often perpetuate adultism without knowing
it. In some cases, young people themselves
The result of
adultism is severe. Seeing and treating
young people as weak,
helpless and less intelligent than adults
impresses inability in the hearts and minds of
youth into adulthood. Adultism often makes verbal, physical, and
abuse towards young people seem “okay”. Further,
adultism can make other negative opinions about
people seem okay, so that young people see
racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of
discrimination being “okay”.
children, youth, and adult allies who are
working to challenge adultism right now. Find resources on our website at http://freechild.org/adultism.htm.