Here are some terms that The Freechild Project has found can be essential to supporting young people in changing the world.

  • Activism—Any attempt led by young people designed to create change in a community, school, government or other area.
  • Adult—Any person identified by society as an adult; usually over 18, 21, or 25; or a person outside the age of majority.
  • Adultcentrism—The practice of regarding adult, including their opinions, interests and actions, above young peoples’ opinions, interests and action.
  • Adultism—Bias towards adults that results in discrimination against youth. Schools, lawmaking, movies and music all reflect adults’ interests and perceptions. Even young people can unconsciously share adults’ perceptions of young people.
  • Adultization—The elimination of childhood and adolescence by schools, marketers and parents in order to promote order and eliminate the “inconvenience” of youth.
  • Adultocracy—A governing system that assumes power should be concentrated in the hands of adult members of society; the collection of obvious and unobvious tools adults use to impose their authority, domination and superiority over children and youth.
  • Age—An anniversary of birth.
  • Age of majority—The age at which a person is granted by law the rights (as ability to sue) and responsibilities – (as liability under contract) of an adult.
  • Ageism—Discrimination based on age.
  • Censorship—Restricting access to information or limiting/eliminating freedom of speech
  • Child abuse—Any violence—physical, emotional, social, moral, etc.—against a person because they are a child.
  • Children’s liberation—Freeing children from bondage they feel is imposed upon them by adults.
  • Children’s rights—Civil and human rights of children who have not yet reached adolescence; also, any right ordained by any common usage or ethics process of such a person.
  • Civic engagement—Strong feelings of connection individuals make between themselves and the larger society in which they belong.
  • Commercialism—Manufacturing and distribution of objects and traits that were formerly free to young people, particularly in the forms of education and culture.
  • Consumerism—The process of identifying, training and transforming young people into complacent consumers rather than dissatisfied citizens.
  • Criminalization—A formal and informal process that makes young people or their specific actions illegal, particularly when young people or their actions were legal in the past.
  • Corporal punishment—Causing somebody pain in order to punish them.
  • Cruising—Driving a car in a leisurely fashion for social purposes.
  • Curfew—An order, rule or law that after a certain time a particular activity stops.
  • Decoration—When young people are used to make a situation look sufficient, often without their consent or knowledge.
  • Democratic schools—Learning communities in which students experience democratic norms in order to learn about democracy.
  • Demonization—The process for making young people evil in order to justify attacking them in the forms of character assassination, legal action and to get rid of their civil liberties.
  • Discrimination—Whenever someone makes a decision that does not include other people. Everyone discriminates all the time, and that is not always bad; also means treating an individual or group unfairly because of a predetermined judgment or their value, beliefs, action or otherwise.
  • Drug testing—A biological test to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs within a person.
  • Drinking age—A defined age at which a person can consume, purchase or be in possession of alcohol.
  • Driving age—A defined age at which a person can operate a motor vehicle.
  • Education—The transmission of values, culture, beliefs and knowledge, deliberately or otherwise.
  • Elected office—A governmental position obtained through voting.
  • Emancipation—A parent’s relinquishing authority and control over a minor child; also, a court upholding a child’s petition to force the parent to relinquish authority and control.
  • Empowerment—An increase in a person’s social, emotional, spiritual, political or educational ability.
  • Engagement—The emotional, psychological, physiological or other connection a person feels towards a person, place, thing, activity, or outcome.
  • Ephebiphobia—The fear of youth.
  • Gerontocracy—Older people dominating the governance of institutions or governments in order to benefit.
  • Gerontophobia—The fear of older people.
  • Homeschooling—Structured learning happening away from a formal school environment, usually in a house.
  • In loco parentis—Control over students legally appointed to schools; literally means “in absence of parents”.
  • Infantalization—Whenever a person is made unable or assumed to be incapable of something because of their age, presumed development, or education. Making a person feel, act, think, believe or otherwise become younger than they are.
  • Intergenerational equity—Parity among all ages that sustains total participation throughout society.
  • Jeunism—Preferring young people because they are young, and in turn, discriminating against adults (also called Youthism).
  • Loitering—To delay or procrastinate, often by occupying one place for too long
  • Manipulation—When adults exert influence over young people in order to gain for themselves.
  • Maturity—The degree to which a person has developed (without regard to age); A perceived notion of above tied more to a person’s age than their actual maturity
  • Militarization—The process where young people and the procedures they participate in become overtly manipulated or controlled by the military or administered in a military fashion.
  • Military conscription—The forced participation of people in the military that is disproportionately focused on young people (also called The Draft).
  • Paternalism—The notion that by “protecting” children and youth, adults are preventing young people from harming themselves.
  • Pediaphobia—The fear of children.
  • Status offense—An act which is only considered criminal when committed by a minor.
  • School reform—Intentionally changing schools to promote improved teaching, learning, accountability or outcomes.
  • Student rights—The inherent freedoms and responsibilities of learners within an educational setting.
  • Student voice—The unique perspectives, ideas, actions and knowledge of learners within an educational setting.
  • Tokenism—Whenever young people are included in order to make it appear that young people are participating; occurs exclusive of meaningful participation.
  • Unschooling—The term given to an increasingly popular method of homeschooling. Proponents of unschooling argue that a system of public education does not allow children to receive the best education available, as it is too centralized. Under unschooling education, parents act as facilitators and are responsible for keeping a wide-range of resources available to provide their children with a quality education.
  • Voting rights—The ability of a person to share their formal opinion about an issue, for a representative, or otherwise within a group setting.
  • Voting age—The formal age determining the right to vote.
  • Youth/adult partnerships—Informal or formal relationships between people recognized as youth and as adults designed to foster equity between partners.
  • Youth liberation—The complete emancipation of young people from adultism, adultcentrism and adultocracy.
  • Youth rights—Distinct civil and human rights afforded to people people between the ages of 12 and 18, or otherwise according to an organization or government’s agenda.


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By Adam Fletcher

Adam is a co-founder and longtime leader of Freechild. He has spoke at conferences, written publications, taught people, and consulted organizations about youth voice, youth engagement, youth-led social change, youth/adult partnerships and more. Learn more about him at

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