Youth Engagement in Youth Liberation

Youth liberation seeks to free young people from the oppressive bondage of age, whether in the home, at the school, or throughout the community. All of this action seeks the elimination of adultism and age-based discrimination. The ideas behind youth liberation are taking hold in many communities around the world today.

There is a portion of youth advocates who believe all children and youth should be allowed to choose their own way all the time, and that this is equivalent to social justice.

That translates to allowing all young people in all schools, community centers, places of worship, and neighborhoods around the world to do whatever they wish, whenever they wish, wherever they wish, however they wish. Some people respond to that by saying, “Surely there is nobody who is really like that, right? No one believes all those things to that extreme!”

WIthout going to any extremes, youth liberation is real. However, in the complexly interwoven into a fabric of interdependence we all rely on, each of us relies on one another for our independence. As an aboriginal activst group in Australia in the 1970s came up with a motto describing this idea far better than I ever could:

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come to because your liberation is bound up in mine, we can work together.”

—Lila Watson

Youth liberation can happen in several ways:

  • Liberation of Mind: Actively encouraging, engaging, empowering and allowing children and youth to think what they want, how they want, when they want and where they want;
  • Liberation of Place: Allowing young people of any ages to traverse society where they want, whether its for public, democratic reasons or private, personal reasons;
  • Liberation of Action: Empowering children and youth with the freedom of movement, freedom of motion and freedom of activities that adults are allowed within the constraints of the law;
  • Liberation of Spirit: Providing young people with the understandings, knowledge, ideas and abilities to be who they are, how they are no matter when they choose or where they are.

Youth liberation is not solely dependent on adults. Instead, freedom of mind and freedom of spirit supercede adult abilities. However, in our highly manipulative society, young people may have a challenging time breaking from of adult constraints to become their own people. However, it can be done, and for all children and youth, it must be done.

I believe the main station, duty, responsibility and right of young people is to learn, whether from each other, from adults, from culture or wherever. A privilege of youth is the ability to focus on the task of learning. With adults throughout society apparently hellbent on controlling the domains of liberation I mentioned above, its paramount that children and youth begin to reconceptualize their own roles throughout society and actively seek the liberation they deserve because they are young.

Compulsory, forced obligations we thrust upon young people today, like making them attend schools and participate in educational programs, violates the liberty of children and youth. That is nothing less than a failure of adults who have no idea how to make learning a fun, engaging and powerful experience that young people must be compelled to participate in because of their own will rather than that of adults. That said, young people have that responsibility to learn, to grow and to be themselves.

So it is a tricky path that currently offers me no clear resolution and few absolutes. However, I do believe that youth liberation as I’ve spelled it out here is an absolute necessity.

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4 responses to “Youth Engagement in Youth Liberation”

  1. It truly is astounding and incredible to the imagination to whiteness so many young people with no direction, discipline, or purpose simply because of the fact that so often they are now neglected by society. It isn’t about “liberation” for young people at all – far from it. These movements aremuch more likely to take to the streets because today’s teaching institutions and parents have been neglecting their responsibilities in and outside of the home too long. It’s not liberating young people, it’s just neglect of young people who need purpose and direction – pure and simple. These youth are in need of direction that was never given to them, it is the result of thirty odd years of failed parenting and teaching strategies that don’t work. Naturally this sort of movement is appealing to young people who do not know anything else because they weren’t instructed or thought differently. It’s not their fault in the slightest, these are the victims of a lazy and selfish system that stopped caring about there guidance and wellness. It’s not fair or acceptable for elders to evade their responsibility to help guide and nurture the young, as is the job of an elder to do. It is no surprise that the countries willing to provide guidance and discipline to their young people are now pulling ahead of us as we have been neglecting todo the same. A famous quote of the Ancients is that if it weren’t for the elders correcting the mistakes of the young then there’d be no democracy. Structure is needed in life just as it is in a building or in anything else. It is essential that parents maintain objective standards in the home as teachers should in schools. I am not submitting my statement out of rage but out of shear concern of what will happen to the poor misguided youth of this country down the road. Please, for the sake of the future of these young minds and souls, let us teach them some restraint and lessons in helping themselves and others to succeed in life. Please, teach these young minds to avoid danger and seek out the right things in life! Let’s not kid ourselves about this point – young people need a hand to guide them, not lazy and unstructured teaching.

  2. I have been hunting for resources for children and youth directed child liberation movements. Hard to find. I am excited to see this. And the videos do a good job of explaining the concept to those who might find the notion of children’s freedom threatening and frightening. It is a difficult concept to introduce to people because of our extremely age-biased and threat and control based dominant cultural paradigm. Children’s oppression is viewed as necessary or as vital to their protection. I hope to use this as a resource for children and families I work with in my practice. Thank you–all of you.

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