War on Youth

 

Introduction

There is a war is raging in the classrooms, on the street corners, and throughout communities across the United States.  This war is particularly pointed at low-income young people and young people from communities of color.  It is a War on Young People, and its very aims are merciless: the end of public schools, the destruction of the social safety net, and the abandonment of a generation. Henry Giroux has written, "this is a war waged by liberals, conservatives, corporate interests, and religious fundamentalists."  The Freechild Project is committed to fighting this War on Young People.  Our effort starts here.

 

Criminalization of youth, discrimination against youth, and the alienation of youth are leading to a fundamental segregation of youth from adults throughout society. Often targeted at low-income youth and youth of color, this War on Youth is raging in almost every community. The War promotes xenophobia against youth, also called ephebiphobia. It's weapons are adultism and paternalism, and it's strategies include adultcentrism. Learn more.

 

Point to Ponder

"This is not class warfare, this is generational warfare. This administration and old wealthy people have declared war on young people. That is the real war that is going on here. And that is the war we've got to talk about." – James Carville

 

Resources

The following resources can assist young people and adult allies in learning more about the War on Youth and what they can do to challenge the ongoing violence.

 

THE FACTS

  • 20% of children are poor during the first 3 years of life, with over 13.3 million children living in poverty right now

  • 9.2 million children lack health insurance

  • In many states, more money is spent on prison construction than on education (Child Research Briefs)

  • The U.S. ranks #1 in military technology, military exports, defense expenditures, and the number of millionaires and billionaires.  It is 18th in the gap between rich and poor children, 12th in the percent of children in poverty, 17th in efforts to lift children out of poverty, and 23rd in infant mortality. (National Center for Children in Poverty, )

  • In 2000 there were 2,316 reports of children under 16 missing in the New York City foster care system. (Youth Communications)

  • 1.4 million children are homeless in the U.S. in any given year.  Children make up 40% of the nation’s homeless population. (Institute for Health Policy Studies, 1995).

  • 3/4 of all United States cities of more than 100,000 population have curfew laws. (ASFAR)

  • Of the 200 largest cities in the U.S., the percentage having curfews surged from less than half in 1990 to almost three-quarters by 1995. (U.S. Dept. of Justice)

Quotes to Consider

Xenophobia - The extreme fear of strangers

Why does America fear and suppress its young like no other modern (or even semi-modern) society? Perhaps because other affluent nations are monocultures. Minority races comprise tiny fractions of the populations of Japan (1%), Germany and Sweden (2%), Holland and France (3%), and United Kingdom (4%). Homogenous Europeans invest in the young because the kids look like the parents.

 In contrast, the U.S. (31% minority) is racially diverse, especially among younger ages. In California, 60% of those over age 40 are white; 60% under age 25 are black, Hispanic, or Asian. We fear young people because, increasingly, they don’t look like the parents.

Taken from an article by Mike Males

...Youth today “are the most dangerous criminals on the face of the earth.” – Congressman William McCollum of Florida (1997)

 

Shortly after the school shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Newsweek described youth as having a dark side and claimed that youth culture in general represents “’Lord of the Flies’ on a vast scale.”

 

Time magazine ran a cover story in August 2001 claiming that “Kids Have Too Much Power.”  This cover projected the power of adult society onto youth, effectively releasing adults from any responsibility for how they use their own power.

 

Continuing battles

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, Youth Today magazine, and many other sources, the last federal budget devastated funding for young people.  Afterschool programs, healthcare programs, underage drinking prevention programs, and safe school initiatives were all on the chopping block.  Juvenile justice and youth employment programs were also cut.  School funding rose in several areas, including school lunches and abstinence-only education.

 

In schools across the U.S. students are subject to search and seizure violations, unwarranted drug scanning, racism, censorship, school uniforms, restrictions on free speech, zero tolerance policies, corporal punishment, and other violations.

 

We can do something to change things, and many people already are.  Young people and their adult allies are fighting together through partnerships and in community to build a healthier, more educated America, and you can join them.  Unlike several recent wars in American history, we can't just declare the War on Young People over.  The enemy will never just "go away."  We must remain constantly vigilant to truth, social justice, and democracy.  But for now, we must get to work.

 

 

Websites & Organizations

 

Colorlines - No War on Youth

This page features resources for raising awareness and fighting the war on youth in California, ushered in by Proposition 21.

 

Bush's War on Children

An early review of Mr. Bush's policies that have negative impacts on young people, including health, education, social services, and more.

 

The War on Youth

A short article detailing the different aspects of the War on Youth, including information from across the nation in a summary of the unjust charges against young people, especially from communities of color.

 

Featured Publication

The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear

 

Author: Henry Giroux

 

 Giroux continues his critique of the US political and popular culture 's influence on the lives of young people. In his controversial new book, Giroux argues that there's a war on in the US these days - against young people.

 

Learn more about Henry Giroux here.

A War on Young People

This feature is from the Poor Magazine Online.  This 2002 article chronicles the criminalization and mass incarceration of youth of color in California.

 

Mike Males homepage

Through his concise, practical, and academic method, Males offers hard-hitting, fact-filled books and articles that break down Adultistic, anti-youth media stereotypes, and inspire young people to fight the systematic and societal prejudice that prevents them from participating throughout society.  

 

Inner-City Struggle

Fighting the War on Youth through direct organizing and community activism, the Youth Organizing Committees have a wide reach and have been successful in altering the views and actions against young people throughout society.

 

For more resources, visit the Freechild Project's resource pages on:

 

 

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