Structural adultism may be apparent in any instance of systemic bias where formalized limitations or demands are placed on people simply because of their young age. These limitations are often reinforced through physical force or police actions.
This is increasingly seen as a form of gerontocracy, explained by James Carville when he wrote,
“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.”
From every report I have read, structural adultism rages across our communities, and includes banks, courts, police, schools, nonprofits, churches, mosques, synagogues, and all levels of governments. I would summarize the effects of structural adultism as:
- Compulsory education
- Access to contraceptives
- Legalized corporal punishment
- Curfew laws
- Anti-youth loitering policies
- Criminalization and demonization of youth via media
- Voting age
- Age of candidacy
- Access to healthcare
- Typecasting of youth by police
- The Draft
Total institutions, which are the organizations in our society which dominate the entire being of a person, include the military, prisons, schools, and hospitals. Young people are affected by total institutions more than any other social group.
Ultimately, the normalization and legitimization of historical, cultural, structural and interpersonal dynamics that routinely advantage adults while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for young people is best summarized as structural adultism.
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- “Adults Just Don’t Understand: Checking Out Our Everyday Adultism” by Kel Krey for everyday feminism