Ways Adults See Youth

There are many, many ways that adults see young people. For more than a decade I have been working with young people and adults to reveal those different ways. We have uncovered adults perceptions of youth, the ways youth are treated in adult programs and organizations, and ways to stop youth from being engaged at all. However, none of these were systemic until now.

The following shows the ways adults see youth, from Current to Transitional to Future. Created with youth and adults from across the US, this represents the possibilities for how we can develop strategic plans to engage youth in dynamic, powerful new ways.

Current Perceptions of Youth

How do adults see the personal realities of youth?

  •  “Youth are meager.”
  •  “Youth are incapable.”
  • “Youth are weak.”
  • “Youth are needy.”
  •  “Youth are impressionable.”
  •  “Youth are misbehaved.”
  •  “Youth are annoying.”
  •  “Youth are baggage.”
  •  “Youth are ill-mannered.”
  •  “Youth are a chore.”

How do adults see the present social realities of youth?

  •  Demanding 
  • · Disobedient
  • ·  Susceptible 
  • ·  Nuisance
  • ·  Loud
  • ·  Violent
  • ·  Inarticulate

How do adults see the present structural realities of youth?

  • Incapable
  • ·  Burden
  • ·  Alien
  • ·  Token
  • ·  Decorative 
  • ·  Recipient
  • ·  Transitory

Transitional Adult Perceptions of Youth

How do adults see the transitional personal realities of youth?

  • Incomplete
  • ·  Immature
  • ·  Docile
  • ·  Fun
  • ·  Free
  • ·  Expressive 
  • ·  Loving

How do adults see the transitional social realities of youth?

  •   Formative
  • · Underdeveloped
  • ·  Kid-Friendly
  • ·  Manipulable
  • ·  Vulnerable

How do adults see the transitional structures realities of youth?

  • Impressionable
  • ·  Educatable
  • ·  Believed
  • ·  Actualized
  • ·  Empowered

Future Adult Perceptions of Youth

How do adults see the future personal realities of youth?

  • ·  Partner
  • ·  Equitable
  • ·  Creators
  • ·  Co-creators
  • ·  Whole
  • ·  Capable
  • ·  Unique
  • ·  Accepting
  • ·  Strong
  • ·  Powerful

How do adults see the future social realities of youth?

  • Effective
  • ·  Equality
  • ·  Capable
  • ·  Driven
  • ·  Dreaming
  • ·  Influential
  • ·  Focused
  • ·  Strong

How do adults see the future structural realities of youth?

  • Partnership
  • ·  Tranformative
  • ·  Valuable
  • ·  Necessity
  • ·  Trusted
  • ·  Wise

For more information about this chart contact my by emailing adam@commonaction.org

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