Reading for the Democracy Deficit Disorder

Democracy Deficit Disorder

There is a scourge of disdain, distrust and disinterest people have for democracy right now. Motivated by a lot of different forces, this scourge is driven by politicians, media, and other engines of public pedagogy that teach, inform, lead, and compel people to hate the things we should care for the most for our collective good. Adam F.C. Fletcher of the Freechild Institute and J. Cynthia McDermott call this the Democracy Deficit Disorder. we’ve written a new book about it called Democracy Deficit Disorder: Learning Democracy with Young People, focused on how children and youth are fighting this disorder. The book comes out on May 31, 2023, from Peter Lang.

There have been hundreds of books, articles, reports, guides, handbooks, papers and more written about everything involved in this book, Democracy Deficit Disorder. Following are some of the most influential works that have informed this publication that we recommend to others.

A Minor Revolution: How Prioritizing Kids Benefits Us All (2023) by Adam Benforado — Based on a powerful argument that “we ought to assess everything we do from the position of trying to ensure the welfare of children. That’s it—the elevator pitch to save the world,” the author details poignant research and makes a great argument for changing the world with young people at the heart of our focus.

A Vision for and Brief History of Youth Philanthropy by Katherine Hahn Falk and Luana G. Nissan for Association of Fundraising Professionals (2007). The depth and breadth of this report goes beyond mainstream, popular approaches to youth philanthropy in large organizations by including hyper-local and culturally diverse examples. Retrieved at

“Adultism and childism” in Philosophy And Education: An Introduction To Key Questions And Themes by Joanna Haynes, Ken Gale and Melanie Parker (2002). This short section reviews historic and current literature to explore adultism while co-relating it to “childism.” Retrieved June 2022 at

Adultism in Architecture. Are Children Being Discriminated Against by our Urban Surroundings? By Anna Jens for GRIN Verlag, (2015). This short booklet reveals how adultism is apparent in the built environment as well as psychological dispositions.

“Adults as allies to young people striving for social justice” by Barry Checkoway for Youth Programs: New Directions (2017) , pp. 93-99 Strategies for preparing adult allies to engage with diverse youth are identified, emphasizing work in downtown Detroit. Explores lessons learned and best practices based in empirical evidence.

“Are Youth At-Risk?” by Kirk Astroth for Journal of Extension Fall 1993 Volume 31, Number 3. In the article a 4-H cooperative extension agent expounds on the failures of youth involvement initiatives throughout the US. Retrieved at

Approaches to Conducting Action Research with Youth edited by M. Berg and J. Schensul of the Institute for Community Research (2004). Special Issue of the Journal of Practicing Anthropology. Covers a wide variety of topics and examples, including PAR in schools, teen health issues, international applications, and more.

The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children by Robert Shaw, M.D. (2013) —

As Soon As You’re Born, They Make You Feel Small: Self-Determination for Children by Wendy Ayotte. A classic collection of liberation articles for kids. From theory, to motherhood, to school, to resistance, and beyond. A vital introduction to a largely ignored topic that rails against child abuse, corporal punishment, gender stereotypes, discriminatory language (ie, “childish”), lack of money, state intervention, exclusion from work, harmful toys, school, and more.

Beyond Resistance! Youth Activism and Community Change edited by Shawn Ginwright, Pedro Noguera, and Julio Cammarota for Routledge.

“Becoming Adult Allies for Youth” by Eileen Blanton for Fellowship, 55 (10-11) October 1989. A nice exploration of new ways for youth and adults to interact via a specific example from the 1980s.

Best Practices in Youth Philanthropy by Pam Garza and Pam Stevens for the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth (2002). A broad, thorough work that identifies and interprets the lessons learned from the practice and the emerging body of research in youth philanthropy. Retrieved at

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin for Candlewick.

Black Youth Rising: Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America by Shawn A. Ginwright for Teachers College Press

“Bridging generations: Applying ‘adult; leadership theories to youth leadership development” by Carole A. MacNeil for New Directions for Youth Development (2006). The author of this article examined traditional adult leadership development research and examined correlations to the minimal information available on youth leadership through adult leadership programs. She then recommended ways one can benefit the other, and applications for action.

Building Community: A Tool Kit for Youth and Adults in Charting Assets and Creating Change by Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development (2001). Retrieved at This publication makes it possible for individuals and groups everywhere to bring an inclusive, asset-based approach to creating positive change in their community. Filled with detailed information and case studies, it gives users what they need to create youth adult partnerships and lasting community development.

“Building Effective Youth-Adult Partnerships” by Jane Norman for Transitions: The Rights. Respect. Responsibility Campaign Volume 14, No. 1, October 2001. Retrieved at

Building Effective Youth Councils: A Practical Guide to Engaging Youth in Policy Making by S. Martin, Karen Pittman, Thaddeus Ferber, and A. McMahon for The Forum for Youth Investment. Retrieved at

Changing the Face of Giving: An Assessment of Youth Philanthropy by Matt Rosen and Maureen Sedonaen for The James Irvine Foundation (2009). This study, commissioned by the James Irvine Foundation and written by the Youth Leadership Institute, examines youth philanthropy as it currently is practiced and recommends future directions for the field. Retrieved at  

“Charity’s Youth Movement: Children and Teenagers Take on Nonprofit Leadership Roles” by Domenica Marchetti for The Chronicle of Philanthropy (2003). Teenagers are becoming vital players in the nonprofit world by starting their own charities, sitting on grant-making boards, raising money, volunteering, and leading efforts to solve problems in their neighborhoods, schools and beyond. Retrieved at

“Children’s Involvement in the Making of a New Constitution in Brazil” by Irene Rizzini and Steven J. Klees in Rethinking Childhood: Perspectives On Children’s Rights, Cultural Survival Quarterly, Issue 24.2 (2000). The article traces the move from a focus on the correction and control of juvenile delinquency to the provision of social assistance to needy children, to an emphasis on the rights of children and on special protection to safeguard those rights.

“Citizenship Knows No Age: Children’s participation in the governance and municipal budget of Barra Mansa, Brazil” by Eliana Guerra in Children, Youth and Environments, 15(2) (2002). This paper describes the development of a children’s participatory budget council in the city of Barra Mansa in Brazil. It provides information on the process and its impact and describes how children learned to represent their peers, prioritize resources and develop projects in the city’s democratic structures. Retrieved at

“Connections to a Cause: The Millennial Way of Charity” by Nicholas Fandos for The New York Times (2016). Highlights several approaches to youth philanthropy that respond to current trends among young people, emphasizing the need for customization and new strategies. Retrieved at

“Consulting About Consulting: Young people’s views of consultation” by Richard C. Woolfson in Educational Psychology in Practice theory, research and practice in educational psychology, Volume 22, Issue 4 (2006) Young people share their ideas about consulting youth, emphasizing the need for customized approaches and personalized outcomes.

Child-to-Child: A Practical Guide Empowering Children as Active Citizens by Sara Gibbs, Gillian Mann, and Nicola Mathers for the Child-to-Child Trust. Retrieved at Highlights a proven process for working with children ages 9-15 on projects that are child-initiated and child-led. It is an illustrated, easy-to-read resource for parents and practitioners in schools and community groups. Including sections on group work, choosing issues, researching, taking action, and evaluation, each section also includes games and experiential learning activities. There are also lists of readings, additional resources, and sample lesson plans.

Childhood, 2nd Edition by Chris Jenks for Routledge (2018). This publication is a foundational text for the study of childhood standing as a distinct field within sociology and beyond. The author explores childhood as a social construct, calling readers attention to the effect, impact and considerations that make childhood exist as a phenomenon. Rather than simply being adults-in-the-making or citizens in the making, Jenks emphasizes the need to see children and youth right now as who they are for their importance and necessity throughout society.

Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl for Yale University Press (2012). Describing a vast discrimination against children worldwide, the author argues the human rights of children are constantly violated by childism. This is a neologism coined by the author, and the book was well-received.

Children: Noble Causes or Worthy Citizens? by Karl Eric Knutsson for Routledge and UNICEF. This book is part of ongoing efforts aimed at changing the discourse on children and strengthening the theoretical, ethical and political arguments for taking children seriously. It asks fundamental questions about the perceptions we have of children and childhood and about ways these perceptions emerge to influence and shape our assumptions, preferences and choices concerning children. The book is divided into two parts. The first part examines cultural and social variations in perceptions concerning children, and the second part draws on conclusions from the analysis. Finally, the author proposes practical lessons that may be learned from the debate about children.

Children’s Participation: From tokenism to citizenship. Innocenti Essays No. 4 by Roger Hart for the UNICEF International Child Development Centre. Retrieved at

Children’s Participation: The Theory and Practice of Involving Young Citizens in Community Development and Environmental Care by Roger Hart. In this book Hart details his conviction that all children can play a central and lasting role in sustainable development if their genuine participation is taken seriously and if communities recognize their developing competencies and unique strengths. This guide introduces the organizing principles, successful models, practical techniques and resources for involving children in environmental projects, with useful further reading and contact addresses.

Child Participation: Challenges of Empowerment by R. Wanduragala, J. Stiglitz, and L. Squire for World Vision UK. Focused on how young people-serving organizations can best facilitate meaningful child and youth involvement. With articles from a legal and practical perspective, it looks at the right to freedom of expression within the framework of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, then the wider implications of child participation from various perspectives. National case laws and international law is addressed here, and then there are contributions from young people in Europe, Philippines, Cambodia and Tanzania.

“Children’s Rights and Responsibilities” by UNICEF (2010) Retrieved at

Creating Better Cities With Children and Youth by David Driskell for UNESCO (2002). This book provides examples and activities that can help young people become engaged throughout their communities. It gives youth participation a global perspective by contextualizing young peoples’ engagement within an international movement for citizen engagement. The tools within this booklet cover a variety of topics.

“Critical Pedagogy, Democratic Praxis, and Adultism” by Toby Rollo, J. Cynthia McDermott, Richard Kahn and Fred Chapel. In the The SAGE Handbook of Critical Pedagogies edited by Barry Down and Shirley R. Steinberg (2020). This article is the most thorough critical examination of adultism I’ve ever seen. From a social justice lens, the authors explore the roles of adultism in several educational settings, including the popular Foxfire program, the Highlander Center, and specifically anti-adultist PAR.

“Engaging Youth in Community Change” by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (2005). Retrieved at

“Engaging Youth for Community Change: The key role of young people in creating Nashville’s Youth Master Plan.” by Ready by 21 for the Forum for Youth Investment. Retrieved at

Engaging Youth in Fundraising by Youth Philanthropy Initiative of Indiana. A nice summary of youth philanthropy with a lot of cool pics and a great layout. Short, easy-to-read and current. Retrieved at

Equal Partners: Organizing “For Youth by Youth” Events by United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention. This guide is intended to support what, for many adults, will be a new way of working with youth. It will also assist young people in developing and running youth-focused events. Retrieved at

Facing Adultism by Adam Fletcher (2015) Summarizing a list of downfalls in modern society’s approach to teaching, parenting, and treating children and youth, this book offers new ways adults can stop their negative attitudes and behaviors towards young people.

Fight Like A Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World by Laura Barcella for Zest Books.

Free? Stories about Human Rights by various authors of Amnesty International for Candlewick.

Free the Children by C. Kielburger, K. Major for Harper Perennial (1999). This book is provides insight into one young man’s goal of ending children’s oppression worldwide by working for children’s rights. Today his organization works around the world, building schools, education families, and working for children in places where those children’s voices have never been heard before.

From the Frontlines: Youth Organizers Speak by LISTEN, Inc (2004). Based on interviews of 52 youth organizers to understand, from their perspective, the importance and distinctiveness of the work of youth organizing.

Future Shapers: Children, Young People, and Planning in New Zealand Local Government by Claire Freeman and Elizabeth Aitken-Rose (2005). Examining the breadth and practices involved in youth planning in N.Z., this article provides essential information.

Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at A Time by Tanya Lee Stone for Wendy Lamb Books.

Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement by The March for Our Lives Founders for Razorbill.

Global Uprising: Confronting the Tyrannies of the 21st Century by N. Welton and L. Wolf for New Society Publishers (2001). This visually and emotionally striking book reflects the new global youth movement for peace and justice. Told through compelling personal narratives, poster art, poetry, photographs, and interviews with new and seasoned activists, Global Uprising captures the spirit of youth activism and honors young people’s power to effect serious change. It highlights a wide-range of critical international issues and actions.

Growing Up in an Urbanising World by Louise Chawla for UNESCO and EarthScan (2003). Scanning global examples of youth participation in community change, this book gives a detailed perspective of several programs, focusing on how young people are responding to increased pressures in the world around them. This book includes eight case studies that demonstrate participatory methods for genuinely giving children and youth a voice. It is intended for development, practitioner and academic communities.

Guide to the Global Youth Movement by Jonah Wittkamper for Global Youth Action Network (2002). When it was made, this was a comprehensive directory of youth organizations and movements from around the world. Retrieved at

“High-School Senior and Peers Are a Growing Force for Philanthropy” by Debra E. Blum for The Chronicle of Philanthropy (2000). Charities are beginning to look to the younger generation of teenagers as a vital force in the philanthropic world as emerging programs in philanthropy around the country seek to get young people more involved—as decision makers, fund raisers or key volunteers. Retrieved at

Holistic Health in Children: Conceptualization, Assessment and Potential by Valerie Michaelson, Nathan King, William Pickett for (2017) This book presents the results of the Canadian Holistic Health in Children project and addresses some novel thinking surrounding the assessment of health and its determinants in adolescent populations. It fills a gap by conducting a series of analyses in a mixed methods paradigm. A powerful, comprehensive study that helps me understand the breadth of understanding available.

Improving Your Community—DIY Toolkit: Improving your community — getting children and young people involved by Save the Children UK (2005) Aimed at adults, this guide sets out a process that includes consulting young people about their views, understanding their rights, supporting them to put their ideas into action, and working alongside others to bring about real change.

IOG Policy Brief No. 5: Youth Involvement in Policy-Making by Elder C. Marques for the Institute on Governance (1999). Critically analyzes recent legislative reforms in the Canadian province of Ontario aimed at permitting greater student input into education policy-making. Proposes ways to strengthen the reforms. Retrieved at

Inter-Agency Working Group On Children’s Participation, Children As Active Citizens by Inter-Agency Working Group on Children’s Participation. This publication operationalizes children’s civil rights and provides detailed information for the progressive realization of children’s civil rights. There are ten priority policy themes and areas of programming for the East Asia and Pacific Region, too. Retrieved at

“Involving Young People in Community Evaluation Research” by Barry Checkoway in the Community Youth Development Journal (2003). An article exploring the 2002 Wingspread Conference on the same topic. Includes suggested guidelines and more.

Involving Youth In Public Policy by S. Clayton, J. Bolcoa, B. Loots, and C. Lee for The California Adolescent Health Collaborative (2004). Forty organizations were interviewed about the variety of approaches they take to involving youth in public policy.

Kids & Guns: How Politicians, Experts, and the Press Fabricate Fear of Youth by Mike Males (2004). Sociologist Males examines statistics revealing how America’s appalling firearms scourge is not teenage but grownup. He shows how media tropes paint violence on African American young men and white social-reject gamesters, but eschew the mainstream values that perpetuate it. Males analysis shows that gun violence is not the disease of marginal outcasts, but winner-loser injustices from high schools to Washington office suites.

Leading a Youth Worker Resource Group by Jenny Sazama for Youth On Board (1999) A youth worker resource group is a structured meeting of people who work with youth and who listen and talk about things that matter to young people. Through the process of listening and sharing ideas, people can appreciate each other’s work, learn from each other’s struggles, and receive encouragement and reliable information about their work, their lives, and accomplishing their goals. By Youth on Board.

Leading the Way: Young Women’s Activism for Social Change edited by Mary K. Trigg for Rutgers University Press.

Learning to Listen Core Principles for the Involvement of Children and Young People by the Children and Young Peoples’ Unit (2001). The purpose of this guidance is to introduce the core principles on which this work should be based; to provide departments with some early advice and background and with signposts to additional help, so that government departments can develop effective plans and to let departments know the broad timetable for action. Retrieved at  

Listening to Young People by Jenny Sazama and Karen Young for Youth On Board (2001) Listening can be used quite effectively in our work with young people. If adults can learn to listen to young people with the understanding that, given enough attention and encouragement, they truly have the best answers, we can help them make permanent changes in their lives. Retrieved at  

Like Now: Changing the Future with Youth Advisory Boards by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Youth Advisory Board. This publication describes why the Foundation started a youth board and what they’ve learned in the process. It offers helpful hints about how to organize a youth board and get youth effectively involved in their communities.

Making Commitments Matter: A Toolkit For Young People To Evaluate National Youth Policy by DESA for UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2004). This kit supports youth organizations to assess national youth policies and community-level achievements for young people. Retrieved at

Making Space – Making Change: Profiles of youth-led and youth-driven organizations by the Young Wisdom Project of the Movement Strategy Center, with the Youth Speak Out Coalition. This is the most important document focusing on young people and social change to come out in the 2000s. It is the only available guide for understanding youth-led organizations and their place in the contemporary youth movement. This new publication follows the stories of five youth-led and youth-driven organizations from around the U.S. Retrieved at

“Making the Dollars Matter: Young Philanthropists Take Up the Business of Change” by What Kids Can Do (2002). Retrieved at

Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! by Marley Dias for Scholastic Press.

Meaningful Student Involvement: Guide to Students as Partners in School Change by Adam Fletcher for SoundOut (28 pgs, 2005). Highlighting a practical framework, important considerations, and real-world examples, this Guide is all about engaging students throughout education. Recommended for anyone interested in student voice, student empowerment, student engagement, or building community in schools. Retrieved at

Meaningful Youth Participation in International Conferences by Gail Cockburn for the Canadian International Development Agency. This report explores the question of how to meaningfully include youth delegates in international conferences. It will be of interest to anyone attempting to involve youth in events and decision-making processes.

Navigating International Meetings: A pocketbook guide to effective youth participation from the United Nations (2002) This guide gives concise information about the structure and process of United Nations meetings, looks at the different avenues available to youth for participating, and offers practical information for surviving a large meeting. The Guide also touches on important questions regarding the impact of international meetings on the local, national, and international level that every past and potential participant should consider. Retrieved at

Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength and Courage for Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Parenting for Social Change by Teresa Graham Brett for Social Change Press (2011). Although titled for adults, this book is squarely positioned for the benefit of society by engaging children and youth. The author calls out harmful cultural messages adults perpetuate in their relationships with children, and challenges readers to aspire to better, deeper and more engaging relationships with their kids.

Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories by Sarah Lerner for Crown Books for Young Readers.

Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-Making by Gerison Lansdown for UNICEF (2001). Retrieved at Makes the case for a commitment to respecting children’s rights to be heard and the need to consolidate and learn from existing practice. It draws on much of the already published research and thinking in the field and on a wide range of international initiatives. In so doing, it seeks to provide practical guidance on the lessons learned to date in working with children as partners. It is a contribution to the development of tools for those who see children’s rights to be heard as a means of promoting and protecting their other rights.

Promoting Strategic Adolescent Participation by Rakesh Rajani for Save The Children (2010). With the belief that involving youth deliberately is a key to national and international community development, this paper proposes youth involvement is better than problem-focused action. This paper highlights the theoretical and conceptual basis for effective youth involvement, and then focuses on the program and strategic aspects of promoting effective adolescent development. Retrieved at  

Protagonism: A Journey in Children’s Participation by Nandana Reddy and Kavita Ratna for Vimanapura, The Concerned for Working Children (2002). Brings experiences and perceptions related to children’s participation that have been gathered previously to highlight principles and tools that would further the pedagogy and praxis of children’s participation.

“Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development: Lessons and Voices from the Field,” by Nicole Yohalem and Karen Pittman for the Forum for Youth Investment (2003) Starting in 1996, several libraries nationwide successfully increased their youth participation through after-school programs, mentoring, youth employment, community service and more. This article illustrates how.

Putting Peace First: 7 Commitments to Change the World by Eric Dawson for Viking Books for Young Readers.

Re-focusing the Lens: Assessing the Challenge of Youth Involvement in Public Policy by Phillip Haid, Elder C. Marques and Jon Brown for the Institute on Governance (1998). Exploration of successful models of youth participation in policy development; also identifies barriers to meaningful youth involvement in the policy process. Based on case studies. Retrieved at

Reaction Consultation Toolkit: A Practical Toolkit For Consulting With Children And Young People On Policy Issues by Sarah Madden for Save the Children (2001). Retrieved 2018 at
This toolkit was written for professionals working with children, policy makers, children and youth who want to engage in dialogues on policies concerning them. It aims to encourage children’s participation in policy debates by illustrating consultative approaches on policy issues.

ReGeneration: Young People Shaping the Environmental Justice Movement by Julie Quiroz-Martinez, Diana Pei Wu and Kristen Zimmerman for the Movement Strategy Center (2006). ReGeneration examines the powerful visions and strategies of young people in the U.S. environmental justice movement. Movement Strategy Center interviewed groups across the country, and found that youth organizers in the environmental justice movement are creating new ways to expand leadership, build intergenerational alliances, work sustainably and bridge issue areas and communities. The groups profiled in this report offer models and strategies to reinvigorate every sector of the national progressive movement. Retrieved at  

“Rethinking Youth Political Socialization Teenage Activists Talk Back” by Hava Gordon and Jessica Taft in Youth & Society 43(4):1499-1527 · December 2011. This research-based article examines the roles of youth activists in society, and youth perspectives about their own roles. The researchers hold conversations and study youth perspectives.

“Scaffolded Participation of Children: Perspectives from India” by Anita Rampal for International Journal of Children’s Rights 16 (2008) 313–325. Examining implementations in India, this paper reveals the tools and approaches necessary to foster children’s participation in educational activities throughout communities. It reveals best practices and identifies areas for growth. Retrieved at  

Stepping Forward: Children and Young People’s Participation in the Development Process by Victoria Johnson, Evan Ivan-Smith, Gill Gordon, Pridmore Pat, and Scott Patta (1997). Drawing on a paper presented at an international workshop on children’s participation held in 1997, this paper presents key issues and challenges facing those facilitating children’s and young people’s participation. Issues include the ethical dilemmas of children’s participation; the process and methods; cultural awareness; institutional considerations; and the key qualities of a participation program for child and young people’s participation.

Teen Trailblazers: 30 Fearless Girls Who Changed the World Before They Were 20 by Jennifer Calvert and illustrated by Vesna Asanovic for Castle Point Books.

The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear by Henry Giroux for Palgrave (2003). Giroux continues his critique of the US political control and popular culture ‘s influence on the lives of young people. Giroux powerfully argues that there is a war on in the US these days – against young people. This book makes the roles of youth central to politics and democracy itself by clearly linking the crisis of youth to the crisis of democracy. A powerful analysis.

The Hip Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture by Bakari Kitwana for Civitas Books (2003). Instead of merely citing statistics and compounding the case against society’s treatment of African American youth today, the author proposes practical, meaningful action to rebalance the injustice in society today.

The Scapegoat Generation: America’s War on Youth by Mike Males for Common Courage Press (1996). An inspirational, motivational report on the actual status of American youth in the 1990s, this book debunks popular myths about drugs, sex, violence, education and other supposed crises facing society. Instead, it shows through practical statistics and powerful data sources that the youth are more than okay—they are thriving, no matter what popular media and politicians say. This is a powerful book.

School Boards of the Future: A Guide to Students as Education Policy-Makers by Adam Fletcher (2014) A manual highlighting examples, tips, promotional information and resources, as well as steps to implement student involvement. It also provides state-by-state profiles of students on school boards across the United States.

Small Towns, Big Dreams: In Dying Rural Economies, Youth Efforts Infuse New Hope and Money” by What Kids Can Do (2006). Details how young people in rural areas across the country are central to the revitalization of their communities. “Young people can change the way a whole town operates. Let me tell you, It is a breath of fresh air.” Elsa, Texas; Howard, South Dakota and; Lubec, Maine are explored. Includes statistical data. Retrieved at  

So You Want to Involve Children in Research: Supporting children’s meaningful and ethical participation in work around violence against children by Sophie Laws and Gillian Mann for Save the Children (2004). This is one part of a series of toolkits produced by the International Save the Children Alliance. This part of the toolkit encourages meaningful and ethical participation by children in research related to violence against children. The toolkit contains two main subjects; involving children in primary and secondary research. Retrieved at

Standing Up for Ourselves: A Study on the Concepts and Practices of the Young People’s Rights to Participation by International Young People’s Action Against Sexual Exploitation of Children for ECPAT – International Secretariat (2001). This report documents the participation of children and young people in program and activities for themselves. It provides a guide for planning and implementing projects that involve children and young people’s participation to address the issue of commercial sexual exploitation.

Steal This Country: A Handbook for Resistance, Persistence, and Fixing Almost Everything by Alexandra Styron for Viking Books for Young Readers.

Strengthening Child-Led Organizations for United Nations Special Session on Children by Save the Children and Girl Guides (2002). This report highlights how child-led organizations and children’s movements have been able to promote participation, self-advocacy and representation.

Student Voice Revolution: The Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook by Adam Fletcher (2017) This is a comprehensive guide ​focused on student voice, student engagement, student/adult partnerships, and more. The research, examples and experience shared in this work can help educators everywhere engage all students in every school as partners in every facet of education for the purpose of strengthening their commitment to learning, community, and democracy.

Taking the Initiative: Promoting Young People’s Involvement in Public Decision Making: International Reports by the Carnegie Young People Initiative. Identifies which policy and administrative infrastructure makes it possible for governments to conceptualize and implement program for young people. The main focus is on the innovative research approaches in the youth development field the research driven youth development model. It underscores the importance of youth participation in informing policy and programming for young people, which countries featured being Barbados, Uganda, Lithuania, Portugal, Denmark, South Africa and Germany.

The Declaration of Accountability on the Ethical Engagement of Young People and Adults by First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. This document shares a wide-ranging perspective of youth involvement, calling for organizations and communities to see beyond past activities and to identify and practice powerful ethical approaches to engaging youth. Despite the reference to Canadian organizations, this document is useful to communities around the world. Retrieved at

The Evolving Capacities of the Child by Gerison Lansdown for UNICEF (2005). As children acquire enhanced competencies, there is a diminishing need for protection and a greater capacity to take responsibility for decisions affecting their lives. This study opens the discussion and promote debate to achieve a better understanding of how children can be meaningfully involved in the fulfillment of their rights. Retrieved at

The Kid’s Guide to Social Action by Barbara A. Lewis for Free Spirit Publishing (1998). This is the first book of its kind to give a hopeful, energetic picture of young people taking action for social change. Features 10 steps for kids to take action, a long list of issues young people are addressing, and important how-to’s.

The Power of an Untapped Resource: Exploring Youth Representation on Your Board or Committee by Youth Adult Partnerships Project. (2001). Written by local youth, this books lists basic criteria for creating an effective board that includes youth representation, including how to prepare boards for youth involvement; create a position; choose representatives; address legal issues; recruit youth; and educate youth members. It also includes an organizational checklist for adults and youth. Retrieved at

The Freechild Project Youth-Driven Programming Guide by Adam Fletcher (2013) This is an introduction to youth-driven programming for nonprofits, government agencies, and other youth-serving organizations. The booklet gives a definition and compares approaches, and then provides planning tools, evaluations and assessments, and more. It includes the Ladder of Youth Voice , rubrics for assessing youth-driven programming, and links to examples and resources that readers can explore on their own.

The Guide to Student Voice, 2nd Edition by Adam Fletcher (2014). With a professional, easy-to-read layout, this short book is packed with useful tips, powerful activities, and great guidance for anyone interested in student voice today.

 The Lifeskills Handbook: An Active Learning Handbook For Working With Children And Adolescents by Clare Hanbury (2020) Provides advice and active learning activities for teaching life skills to children and adolescents. It supports and guides all people who plan, manage, teach or work on formal and non-formal education programmes. It can be adapted and used in different cultural contexts worldwide.

“The Politics of Paternalism: Adult and Youth Perspectives on Youth Voice in Public Policy” by Jerusha Osberg Conner, Nathan C. Ober and Amanda S. Brown in Teachers College Record (2016). Studying the implementation of a local youth council, the authors researched the practice and outcomes of adultism in one city. Developing a theoretical framework of adultism to guide the analysis, they used open and axial coding, memo writing, and the construction of matrices and charts to track emergent patterns. Among their findings, they identify a “roller coaster of adultism” and reveal how adultism interacts with specific structures and realities in policy-making.

The Practice of Youth Engagement by Adam Fletcher (2014) Essential lessons, powerful examples and deep insight for newcomers and longtime practitioners. Diving into the meaning, activities and outcomes of youth engagement, it provides slicing analysis and strong tips.

“The Roles of Youth in Society: A Reconceptualization” by Ruthann Kurth-Schai in The Education Forum. Paper 39. (1988) Offers a definitive analysis of the current roles of children and youth, and how they can be realigned according to necessity and empowerment. Retrieved at

The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change by Barbara A. Lewis for Free Spirit Press.

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How To Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewelyn for Lowry House Publishers (1998). This book declares its, “Your life, time, and brain should belong to you, not to an institution.” An essential primer for youth and adults on how to de-school yourself, this book is filled with details on all the issues surrounding it including the legal implications, dealing with adults and learning once outside school. In the final section it includes stories about what people have done with their lives when not constrained by the educational system.

“Understanding Adultism: A Key to Developing Positive Youth-Adult Relationships” by John Bell (1995). An outstanding article that explores adultism, including what it looks like, its implications, activities, and impacts on society. Retrieved at

Understanding and Supporting Young People by Jenny Sazama for Youth On Board (1999) To be effective, adults need to analyze their own youthful experiences. This booklet is a hands-on policy statement for adults to work against young people’s oppression and its effects, and can be used as an outline for how adults can better work with young people.

We Say Never Again: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists edited by Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner for Crown Books for Young Readers.

Washington Youth Voice Handbook by Adam Fletcher (102 pgs, 2007)—An introductory guide that lays out what, why, who, when, where, and how youth voice happens in diverse communities across Washington State. The handbook includes a Youth Voice Assessment, the Washington Youth Voice Directory, and a resource section. Retrieved at

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson for Penguin/Random House.

What Works in Youth Participation? Case Studies from around the world by Sylvia Golombeck for International Youth Foundation (2002). This report asked “What does participation mean in different cultures? What inhibits or encourages youth participation? How does a lack of access to technology hinder youth’s ability to participate? What lessons have we learned from existing youth programs worldwide? What Works in Youth Participation is a document for policy makers, business leaders, and community practitioners, to learn about “what works” in the area of youth engagement. Retrieved at

White Paper: Young, Gifted and Underfunded: Strengthening the Relationship Between Philanthropy and Youth-Led Movements by Quivolve Consulting for Open Society-Baltimore. A Baltimore-specific study squarely positioning the city’s lack of fiscal support for youth-led, youth-driven initiatives, structural barriers to youth activism, and more on philanthropists. Retrieved at

Why Kids Should Be Able To Vote by Amy Cox. 17 year old Amy Cox is passionate about politics and International Relations. A school debater from age 12, she has represented Ireland in the Cambridge and Oxford Unions through the International Competition for Young Debaters. As an active member of the European Youth Parliament (EYP) she was part of the Irish delegation to the First International Forum of EYP Switzerland in Basel. Chairing sessions in Strasbourg and Liverpool and the Dublin Regional Council of EYP Ireland, Amy is also an organiser for the Dublin Regional Session. Her talk is on youth involvement in politics, inspired by her time in Switzerland and the feeling of powerlessness she and friends experienced during the recent referendum on abortion in Ireland. Retrieved at

Working Shoulder to Shoulder: Stories and Strategies of Youth-Adult Partnerships That Succeed by Deborah Fisher for Search Institute (2004) Practical advice for adults to connect with teens, and to connect teens with other responsible and supportive adults.

Yes You Can! Your Guide to Becoming an Activist by Jane Drake and Ann Love for Tundra Books.

Your Guide to Youth Board Involvement and the Law by Youth on Board (2001). Legal issues regarding the roles of youth on nonprofit boards are detailed in this simple non-legalese overview. Though its not a how-to guide, it provides key details about where, when, why and how these activities are legal (or not) in many states. Retrieved at

“Young and Philanthropic: Students at a Florida High School Raise Money and Distribute Grants at Community Foundation They Run” by Susan Gray for The Chronicle of Philanthropy (1998). Students at Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida are involved in what is believed to be the first community foundation founded and run by teenagers. Through this foundation, the teens are not only learning about philanthropy, but they also are getting the experience of participating first-hand in the joys of giving. Retrieved at

Young People Creating Community Change by Barry Checkoway for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Retrieved at

Younger Voices, Stronger Choices: Promise Projects Guide to Forming Youth/Adult Partnerships by Loring Leifer and Michael McLarney (1997) “Involving young people in decisions is a way of showing respect, of saying their opinions and ideas count. To accomplish this, both youths and adults will need adequate preparation and training.” This book details what both youth and older adults must do to make a partnership work.

Youth!: The 26% Solution by Wendy Lesko for Information USA (1998). This easy-to-read book provides a broad overview of young people taking action around the US in a variety of areas, and includes resources, tips, and stories to motivate action.

“Youth-Adult Partnerships” by Kenneth R. Jones. &. Daniel F. Perkins in Encyclopedia of Applied Developmental Science edited by Fisher, C. and Lerner, R. M. (2007) Provides an interesting continuum to measure the relationship between young people and adults by echoing Hart’s Ladder.

Youth Activism: A Web Forum by the Social Science Research Council. Focusing on African American Youth activism, this guide calls attention to young people directly facing the kinds of inequalities that global justice activism addresses only they address them locally, in their own schools and communities. Retrieved at

Youth Activism: An International Encyclopedia edited by Lonnie R. Sherrod for Greenwood Publishing Group (2006). This publication summarizes hundreds of examples of youth activism in the first-ever encyclopedia of the work. This work is a reflection of the efforts of the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement.

Youth and Adults Working Together Integrating Youth Voice and Leadership into Programs by Youth Service America (2014) Retrieved at

Youth and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): Challenges and Opportunities for Implementation by Amir Farmanes et al. for United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2005). This paper discusses the implications of MDG implementation for young people. It provides an overview and examples of youth participation in MDG review and implementation. Retrieved at

“Youth Consultants for Change” by Karen Pittman for Youth Today. (May 2003) This article details the work of Community Impact! in involving youth in changing communities. Retrieved at

Youth Involvement in Evaluation and Research Brief by Karen Horsch, Priscilla M. D. Little, Jennifer Chase Smith, Leslie Goodyear, Erin Harris, Harvard Family Research Project.

Youth Involvement for Community, Institution and Youth Development: Directions for Research, Evaluation and Practice by Matthew Calvert, Shep Zeldin and Amy Weisenbach for the Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development (2002).

Youth Involvement: Developing Leaders And Strengthening Communities by Bruce Swinehart for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Public and Indian Housing (1991)

Youth Issues, Youth Voices: A Guide For Engaging Youth And Adults In Public Dialogue And Problem Solving by Sarah Campbell (1996). A discussion guide for youth and adults to talk about youth issues and brainstorm solutions. Retrieved at

Youth-Led Community Organizing: Theory and Action by Melvin Delgado and Lee Staples for Oxford University Press (2008). The first comprehensive study of this dynamic field, this is a well-organized book attempts to bridge the gap between academia and practice. The authors’ social justice-rooted perspective on the fields conceptual and practical foundations is an effective basis for analyzing youth-led community organizing, and offers glimpses of successful groups in action and helpful insight into how starter organizations can become stronger.

Youth Liberation of Ann Arbor: Young, Gifted and Media-Savvy by Mike Mosher (2000). “In Ann Arbor (MI) in the 1970’s… ageism was critiqued as an institutional force of oppression akin to racism or sexism. Kids were a hot topic, not only because they were controlled by institutions in which they had no say but also because they often had the energy and gumption to combat it.” This is a long history of a historically important organization from the 1960s called Youth Liberation, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Retrieved at

Youth Participation in Community Planning by Barry Checkoway, Ramona Mullahey, and Yve Susskind for the American Planning Association (1999). This booklet is an early publication that provided an important initial illustration of youth action for social change. It includes successful models and methods, and proposes a national movement for change. Retrieved at

Youth People As Competent Community Builders by Barry Checkoway and Janet Finn for the Center for the Study of Youth Policy at the University of Michigan (1993).

Youth Planning Manual by Youth for the City of Portland, Oregon (2012). This manual was written by youth and features youth art, intending to teach adults why, how, where, and when youth involvement should happen throughout the city. It is a tremendous tool. Retrieved at

Youth Rights and Responsibilities: A Handbook for North Carolina’s Youth by the N.C. Department of Administration and Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office (1999). The book consists of 163 questions and answers about young North Carolinians’ legal rights in these areas: school, work, money, transportation, health, controlled substances, abuse and neglect, the criminal justice system, parenting, emancipation, marriage, and citizenship.

“Youth service fuels charity” by Sandra Cyr for the Philanthropy Journal News (2002). Retrieved at

Youth Voices in Community Design Handbook by The California Center for Civic Engagement and Youth Development (2002). This is a spectacular, free how-to guide on getting youth involved in local policy making and community planning. The handbook provides a step-by-step guide to youth engagement and is supported by an extensive online library of articles and activities. Retrieved at

Youth Voice: A Guide for Engaging Youth in Leadership and Decision-Making in Service-Learning Programs by Jonna Justinianno and Cynthia Scherer for The Points of Light Foundation (2001) The purpose of this guide is to provide service learning practitioners with basic information on youth voice – how to engage youth in leadership and decision-making in programs. This guide highlights what youth voice is, why it matters and models of youth voice that have been implemented by service learning practitioners.

Youth Voice Project: Student Insights into Bullying and Peer Mistreatment by Stan Davis and Charisse L. Nixon for Research Press.

15 Points: Successfully Involving Youth in Decision Making by Jenny Sazama, Karen Young and Adam Fletcher for Youth On Board (2007) Young people should be involved in the decisions that affect their lives. They benefit. Organizations benefit. And so does the community. If you are under 21 and want to learn how to become involved in positions of power, or you are already working with young people and want to do so more effectively, 15 Points… is for you. This comprehensive guide includes guidelines, worksheets, tips, a resource directory, and stories from the street–all designed to help young people and adults build effective relationships in order to work together in improving their communities.

These are just some of the trainings at work against the Democracy Deficit Disorder right now. Do you have others to add? Please share them in the comments section below!

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Democracy Deficit Disorder
Action | Books | Media | Organizations | Training

Related Topics
Democracy | International development | Nation building | Involvement in decision-making | Popular education | Democratic education | Community development | Government involvement

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