Facing Adultism by Adam Fletcher

Order FACING ADULTISM by Freechild founder Adam Fletcher at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1517641233/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1517641233&linkCode=as2&tag=thefreechildp-20&linkId=43XBKODOPHWZ46XW
The cover of Facing Adultism by Adam Fletcher
This is the cover of Facing Adultism by Adam Fletcher (2015).

Discover a grim reality facing all children and youth today called adultism.

Do you feel like society treats young people poorly?

Does youth empowerment appeal to you?

In Facing Adultism, renowned educator Adam Fletcher talks straight about discrimination against young people, and pulls no punches as he lays out the realities of adultism today.

Originally published as Ending Discrimination Against Young People, in this book Fletcher lays out the details of adultism in all of its forms. Showing how adultism affects everyone, he shows the way for anyone who wants to defeat discrimination against young people. In these pages, you’ll learn what adultism is; where adultism happens; and how YOU can make a difference.

It can be rough out there for children and youth, and the ways we’re young shape our whole lives. You don’t have to be blind about adultism anymore, as this book shines the light like no other.

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Defeating Adultism

Our society is deeply entrenched in adultism, which is bias towards adults and consequently, discrimination against young people. It is prevalent throughout the institutions of our society. In order to re-negotiate adultism, we have to identify what support has to exist throughout society. I call this support “scaffolding”. I call this re-negotiating “youth integration”.

Youth integration will occur in two steps:

  1. The first step is desegregation of youth, which is deliberately ending the segregation of young people throughout society. Today, segregation happens implicitly and explicitly throughout society, including schools, at home, in commerce, and in law-making, enforcement, and courts. Desegregation will address the tools of segregation, including policies and practices, as well as the attitudes and opinions that reinforce them.
  2. The second step is integration of youth. When young people are re-established in equitable relationships throughout society, including their relationships with parents, teachers, youth workers, police, and others, integration is present. It is a deliberate step meant to stop and reverse segregation.
IfightAdultism

Scaffolding Against Adultism

Supporting young people as adultism is defeated  throughout society has to be done with deliberation and determination. Challenging adultism and fighting discrimination against youth must be situated in the larger struggle for nonviolence and social justice across our society. Awareness of these struggles and attuning with great legacies of transformation positions young people as the substantive leaders in social change they have been for more than 100 years.

Following are three central elements in the scaffolding.

Element One: Culture

The first column of scaffolding for youth integration is Culture. Culture is made of the beliefs, habits values, visions, norms, systems, and symbols within a specific and definable community. Adultism is made in the fiery furnace of culture, as groups of people work together to define and reinforce stringent perspectives that re-enforce adultism. In the same way, culture can help examine those assumptions and redefine them in line with social justice through youth integration.  

adultismaffectsprogramoutcomes

Element Two: Structure

The named activities, policies, strategies, processes, allocation, coordination, and supervision of people throughout a community happens through the structure of a definable group of people. In schools, structure includes school rules and curriculum; in society, it includes laws and policing. Structure makes things happen, enforces those things, and encourages them. Structural change promoting youth integration requires deliberate action for transformation. It should actively engage young people in equitable relationships while establishing and maintaining adult allyships.

adultismaffectsadultattitudes

Element Three: Attitude

Where culture and structure belong to a group, attitude belongs to individuals. “Your attitude determines your altitude” applies to adult understandings of youth: “Adult attitude determines youth altitude.” In our adult-dominated, adult-driven society, young people are subject to and subjugated by adult opinions, actions, attitudes, knowledge, and beliefs. This is the full effect of adultism. In order to counter this effect, we must change our own attitudes and provide opportunities for the people around us to change theirs, including youth and adults. This takes new ways of communicating, interacting, and being. It takes personal engagement within our selves and throughout the worlds around us.

adultismaffectsyouthprogramdesign

We must address each of these elements when we seek to integrate young people in any part of society. Each is present throughout all the formal and informal institutions throughout our society. You can find culture, structure, and attitude in individual homes, schools, governments, and other places. By creating scaffolding for youth integration, we can re-negotiate adultism throughout our lives.

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Cultural Adultism

Cultural adultism is a very ambiguous, yet very prevalent, form of discrimination and intolerance towards youth. It is one of the pillars of adultism that informs our society’s conception of adulthood.

Adultism informs our society’s conception of adulthood through our cultures, structures, and attitudes.

Any restriction or exploitation of people because of their young age, as opposed to their ability, comprehension, or capacity, may be said to be adultist. These restrictions are often attributed to “better judgment”, the “wisdom of age”, or other popular age-related euphemism that is afforded to adults simply because of their age. Examples of where this plays out include:

  • Portrayal of youth as apathetic by media
  • Anti-youth store rules
  • Child abuse
  • Academic misconceptions of youth, supported by bad research
  • Ongoing commericalization of the culture young people partake in
  • Online filters
  • Corporal punishment
  • Literature
  • Child labor
  • Mass marketing of pre-packaged youth culture to youth and adults
  • Peer pressure
  • Child prostitution
  • Fashion controversies
  • Political and sociological scapegoating of youth
  • Stereotypes about youth subcultures
  • Teen sex
Time Magazine Cover
A very adultist magazine cover reflecting cultural bias towards adults, and discrimination against young people.

Causes of Cultural Adultism

Adultism is bias towards adults. Bias towards adults happens anytime the opinions, ideas, knowledge, beliefs, abilities, attitudes, or cultures of adults are held above those of people who aren’t considered adults because they’re not considered adults. Because of this, our very conception of childhood itself is adultism at work. Anyone who works professionally or lives in society with young people as an adult is inherently adultist.

Our adultist attitudes are primarily demonstrated as discrimination against children and youth. This comes across in our national, state, and local laws; educational, health, nutritional, and social policies; family norms; religious and spiritual beliefs; and social customs. Everything from the height of dinner tables to compulsory education passively and actively reflects adultism. Seeking to make the world into our vision of things, adults invented the phenomenon of childhood to ensure that kids were comprehensible and controllable. Because of that, the status of children has become passive, static, and predictable.

Does that make adults wrong or bad? Not all the time and not everywhere. There are times when, as an adult, I am discriminated against. Legally, I cannot go into a hospital and operate on someone, nor can I drive an 18-wheel semi-truck. Culturally, it is inappropriate for me to use a women’s changing room at a store or attend a self-help group for narcotics. None of those examples are inherently bad or wrong. They are intended to keep myself or others safe. Its the same with much well-meaning adultism that is intended to keep young people or others safe. If a building is burning down, as an adult I feel its my responsibility to grab everyone and make sure they’re out of the building, regardless of age.

However, in our society adults always act like the building is burning down. That’s what must change. People who want to change the miserable state of affairs facing the world must take action to stop adultism now. We must challenge the ineptitude of adults and their intransigence towards the changing abilities and roles of young people throughout society. We must push back against age-based assumptions that have nothing to do with the capacity of young people.

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Structural Adultism

Freechild Project youth at a summer camp in Seattle

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.

Adultism informs our society’s conception of adulthood through our cultures, structures, and attitudes.

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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Attitudinal Adultism

Students in the SoundOut Summer Camp in Seattle

Attitudinal adultism, also called internalized adultism, is the deeply personal attitude of children, youth and adults that is biased towards adults.

Adultism informs our society’s conception of adulthood through our cultures, structures, and attitudes.

In his booklet called, Adults as Allies, [PDF] Barry Checkoway of the University of Michigan School of Social Work writes that

adultism causes youth to “question their own legitimacy, doubt their ability to make a difference…” and perpetuate a “culture of silence” among young people.

In his article called “Understanding Adultism A Key to Developing Positive Youth-Adult Relationships”, John Bell expands on that assessment, with a series of examples of what internalized adultism looks like. I summarize and expand on them as:

  • Adults envying the “personhood” of young people
  • Adults discounting or underestimating the ability of young people
  • Young people seeking constant approval from adults
  • Young people denying solidarity with their age-similar peers
  • Peer-to-peer violence
  • Corporal punishment
  • Sexual abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Forced religious attendance
  • Home curfew rules
Adultism is 1) Bias towards adults; 2) Addiction to adults; 3) Discrimination against youth

Exploring Internalized Adultism

What makes internalized adultism so terrible is that it is so pervasive. Everywhere we look, every time we see adults and children and youth interacting, it is there. Stores, daycares, schools, restaurants, playgrounds, city halls… Internalized adultism is so pervasive that I often hear myself in the middle of saying something adultist to my own child before I catch myself and stop.

Unfortunately, adultism is supported by a scaffolding in our society that does nothing more than reinforce and extend the effects of adultism on children and youth. In workshops, The Freechild Project defines adultism as bias towards adults. This definition is supported by the attitudes, behaviors, and practices that many individuals – young and older – take against young people.

Internalized adultism is the way that children and youth use adultism against other children and youth. Being a “tattle tale” or a bully are obvious ways this happens; more subtle ways include what Alfie Kohn calls “parroting,” when young people repeat what adults say in their own language simply to gain that adults’ acceptance.

Another way is much more popular, and I believe, a lot more harmful. What students call “cliques” are social groups that form in community settings throughout young peoples’ lives, including schools and community centers. Sociologists sometimes call cliques “youth subcultures,” but I believe that labeling is adultist itself. Cliques are internalized adultism because they are prescribed to happen by adults through mass marketing and commercialism. Shortly thereafter, youth start to believe these negative stereotypes of themselves, suddenly joining through language, clothes, music, attitudes, and behaviors that were prescribed for them by whatever adult-driven mass media brought them there originally.

The reason I say cliques as a form of internalized adultism are so harmful are the social and economic impacts of cliques throughout society. In every community where I have worked intensively — including African American, middle class white, low-income Latino, rural, and urban — cliques have had their place among young people. In some areas they were gang-related; in others, popularity-driven; in still others, they were motivated by clubs or athletics or other stuff.

In sociology these are sometimes called “ingroups” and “outgroups.” Ingroup bias drives young people to oppress one another, both by alienating some at the expense of others, and reinforcing membership through clothing, music, and attitude. The first two suck, particularly because they support the last. It is that last affect – attitude – that is the kicker. The attitudes of ingroups inform how we behave all of our lives. Our consumer behaviors, our social norms, our cultural acceptance – those are all evidence of our attitudes when we are young. Even if our attitudes change drastically as we mature, they are still respondent to our exposures when we are young.

Ingroups also inform both why young people perpetuate adultism towards other children and youth, and why young people become adults who perpetuate adultism towards children and youth. What a vicious, ugly cycle.

(I will admit that in itself may be an adultist view, particularly because I allude to young people not making conscious decisions about joining cliques. However, that is not what I’m saying; instead, I am saying that what they are joining was prescribed by adults, and is not youth-driven itself. I do not believe that there is any “authentic” youth culture in America today. Instead, this country is so media saturated that we have lost authenticity, and any so-called youth-driven culture today is merely a response to some other adult-driven cultural assignment. That is a sucky situation.)

Adultism drives us to do many things. In order to stop it, we have to train adults to identify and fight their own behavior, and to challenge the adultist behavior of their peers. At the same time we need to facilitate learning experiences for young people to identify adultism, challenge it among their peers, and effectively challenge it among the adults in their lives. Only then will true social progress in the war against adultism (and ephebiphobia) be made.

ALL Adults Are Adultist.

Challenging Internalized Adultism

The tendency of being dismissive or disregarding of adultism by both young people and adults reflects one of the core, unspoken strategies inherent in the dominant relationships between children, youth and adults in our society.

Taking in that discrimination so deeply that it silences a child or youth is one effect; encouraging a young person to lambast themselves or their peers or younger people is another. This internalization disables young people from being able to form a positive identity based in their age, and further promotes the inability of young people to become effective agents for social change throughout our society.

Much needs to be written about identifying internalized adultism and drawing out its causes and effects on their lives of both young people and adults. I have found very little literature that does this in a sophisticated enough way to warrant response. In the meantime, I would suggest the following questions can be essential for challenging internalized adultism. They are good for any age, and only need to be adjusted for each individual’s usage.

  • What has been or is good about being a young person?
  • What makes me proud of being young?
  • What are children and youth people really like?
  • What has been difficult about being young?
  • What do I want other young people to know about me?
  • Specifically, how have I been hurt by other young people?
  • When do I remember standing up against the mistreatment of one young person by another?
  • When do I remember being strongly supported by another young person?
  • When do I remember that another child or youth (unrelated) really stood up for me?
  • When do I remember acting on some feeling of internalized adultism?
  • When do I remember resisting and refusing to act on this basis?

  We must examine these questions for their outcomes in our own lives and the lives of those around us, simply because they begin to allow us to go further.  In order to effectively challenge adultism we each have to examine its effects throughout our own lives. This is one attempt to encourage each of us to do that.

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Introduction to Adultism

Adultism is 1) Bias towards adults; 2) Addiction to adults; 3) Discrimination against youth

Definition of Adultism

There are three parts to the complete definition of adultism, from Adam Fletcher’s book Facing Adultism:

  • Adultism is favoring adults by dismissing young people.
  • It is also the addiction to the attitudes, ideas, beliefs, and actions of adults.
  • Because adultism is bias towards adults, it inherently and obviously leads to discrimination against children and youth.
ALL Adults Are Adultist.

Where Adultism Happens

It is a major factor in how society is organized: By assuming children and youth do not have anything of substance or value to add to the majority of social activities, adults keep their power intact. Adultism happens in government, education, social services, religious communities, and families. It is present in our laws, legal practices, economic activities, and the ways we share our cultures.

adultismaffectsprogramoutcomes

Why Adultism Happens

Adultism happens because adults think there is value to it. Adults believe adults sometimes act more responsibly and capably than young people. However, adults often act as if children and youth are never responsible and never capable. That is when adultism becomes a problem problem.

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What Adultism Does

Adultism does many things:

  • Adultism ignores, silences, neglects, and punishes children and youth simply because they are not adults. Every young person experiences adultism from the day they are born until the day the world around them recognizes them as an adult. Every adult in our society today has experienced adultism.

Because of this unconscious sharing of the same experiences, adults often perpetuate adultism without knowing it. In some cases, young people themselves perpetuate adultism.

adultismaffectsyouthprogramdesign

The Outcomes of Adultism

The outcomes of adultism are severe.

  • Seeing and treating young people as weak, helpless and less intelligent than adults impresses inability in the hearts and minds of youth into adulthood.
  • Adultism often makes verbal, physical, and emotional abuse towards young people seem “okay”.
  • Adultism can make other negative opinions about people seem okay, so that young people see racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination being “okay”.

Adultism is a major concept in the organization of society. Adultism prevails in every sector, including government, education, social services, and families. The defeat of adultism is often seen as a bad thing, as adults are mostly capable only of seeing their own abilities as those that are truly needed to the function and well-being of our world.

Because of the long history and broad realities of adultism and its pervasive nature in our societies, essentially all people are affected by adultism. The resulting internalized oppression and distress is severe. For example, adultism forces us to treat young people as weak, helpless and less intelligent than adults. For a lot of people, there is verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Adultism forces children and youth to accept all other oppressions that exist in the society.

adultismaffectsadultattitudes

Stopping Adultism

The most important thing anyone can do to stop adultism is to address how they perpetuate it, no matter whether they are an adult or a young person. Internalized adultism forces children and youth to unconsciously cause adultism to keep happening. External adultism is obvious throughout our society. Seeing our role in those internal and external things is a key to stopping adultism.

After we explore our personal attitudes and roles, we can face adultism in many other ways, too. There are three places adultism can show up throughout our lives:

If we are committed to facing adultism, we will look in those three areas of our own lives to see where adultism exists, what it does, how it appears, and why it matters. Then we can decide real, individualized steps each one of us can take to stop adultism.

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Social Justice Links

The Freechild Project focuses on youth changing the world. Our theory of change focuses on youth engagement throughout the world around them, in meaningful, empowering relationships that bring about social change. By becoming connected with organizations committed to social change, young people acknowledge their interdependence and build their communities.

In assessing moral issues, interdependence shows us that we cannot isolate ourselves from the harmful or criminal act of ‘another,’ we cannot pretend the criminal or the pirate is bad and I am good, because all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs. – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Organizations

The following list of organizations has been compiled to provide a broad array of opportunities for young people and their adult allies to join together in large movements for social change, affecting individuals, communities, and the world.

Adbusters Media Foundation — Adbusters describes itself as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.” Adbusters publishes a glossy, provocative magazine of the same name, sponsors Buy Nothing Day and TV Turnoff Week, produces clever “uncommercials” and seeks to agitate so that folks “get mad about corporate disinformation, injustices in the global economy, and any industry that pollutes our physical or mental commons.”

AFL-CIO  The AFL-CIO is the largest labor organization in the United States. Its website includes abundant information on organizing campaigns, links to member unions, news articles on union drives, updates on student activism, and sections on union culture and history.

American Friends Service Committee — This venerable social justice organization has a Mexico-U.S. Border Program and publishes an assortment of resources. AFSC also has a Youth and Militarism project that organizes against JROTC and military presence in public schools. The Cambridge, Massachusetts AFSC publishes Peacework, a monthly journal serving movements for nonviolent social change. AFSC also maintains a film and video library.

Amnesty International USA — AI seeks to promote the human rights included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, focusing especially on prisoners of conscience, ending the death penalty, and combating torture. Amnesty’s website includes the complete text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as numerous links to human rights groups around the world, articles, video clips, reports, and action opportunities.

Catholic Worker Movement — The Catholic Worker Movement is “grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person.” Since its founding in 1933 they have protested war, violence and injustice in all forms. Its journal is The Catholic Worker.

Changemakers.net — A monthly journal of stories about system-changing, problem-solving initiatives undertaken by social entrepreneurs from around the world.

Clean Clothes Campaign — A coalition of European groups aiming to improve working conditions in the global garment industry. Conducts campaigns and provides information on companies such as Adidas, Benneton, C & A, Disney, Phillips-Van Heusen, Gap, H & M, Levi-Strauss, Nike, and Otto.

Green America — Valuable information on sweatshops, consumer boycotts, and strategies to use “consumer and investor power for social change.” Co-op America is a national nonprofit organization that helps individuals find businesses that are environmentally responsible and engage in fair trade, and offers technical assistance to companies aiming for social and environmental responsibility.

The Council of Canadians — This independent organization provides analyses on key issues from a critical and progressive standpoint. Its director, Maude Barlow, is perhaps the leading critic of schemes to privatize the world’s freshwater supplies.

CorpWatch — Indispensable resources and news about globalization and justice struggles around the world. An online issue library includes topics such as biotechnology, Globalization 101, grassroots globalization, sweatshops, the WTO and the IMF/World Bank. Very extensive links. A similarly valuable but unrelated site is Corporate Watch.

Cultural Survival — Cultural Survival sponsors basic research on indigenous peoples, particularly examining the effects of “development.” The results of this research are published in its Cultural Survival Quarterly. The website includes an education archive with curriculum resources offered, including Rainforest Peoples and Places (grades 6-9), The Chiapas Maya (grades 6-12) and the Rights of Indigenous Nations.

The David Suzuki Foundation — David Suzuki is one of the world’s leading geneticists and environmentalists. The foundation is especially active in the area of climate change, focusing on the “urgent need for practical strategies to reduce global warming caused by human activities.”

Focus on the Global South — Too often discussions of globalization are dominated by those of us in the North, however well-intended or well-informed we may be. Focus on the Global South’s website features wonderful, hard-to-find, in-depth articles from the perspective of activists and scholars in the global South ÷ the so-called Third World. See their “publications” section.

Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy — Food First describes itself as “a peoples think tank and education-for-action center.” Over the 25-plus years that this pioneering organization has been around, it has published some of the most useful books on food and hunger issues. Through its publications and activism, it continues to offer leadership to the struggle for reforming the global food system from the bottom up. The catalog is online at their website.

Friends of the Earth — Friends of the Earth is a national environmental organization dedicated to preserving the health and diversity of the planet. FOE distributes valuable publications ranging from books on global warming to the IMF’s effects on the environment.

Global Exchange — Founded in 1988, Global Exchange is an organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political, and social justice around the world. In the late Î90s, Global Exchange was perhaps the most important organization drawing attention to Nike’s sweatshop abuses. Their expansive website gives a flavor for the diversity of activities they have initiated, which include “people to people” projects, such as “reality tours” to Third World countries, managing “fair trade” stores, and publishing resources on global justice issues. Global Exchange is one of the key global justice organizations.

Greenpeace International / Greenpeace USA — Greenpeace began in 1971 when activists went to “bear witness” to nuclear weapons testing planned for Amchitka island, off Alaska. Today Greenpeace is one of the leading organizations using nonviolent direct action to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to what the organization hopes will be a “green and peaceful future.” It sponsors campaigns on global warming, environmental toxics, destructive fishing, genetic engineering, nuclear power and weapons, and saving ancient forests. Both websites feature extensive background materials on these issues, action alerts, ways to get involved, and numerous links to other organizations.

The Independent Media Center — This is the CNN of the global social justice movement and a wonderful resource. The Center acts as a clearinghouse of information and provides up-to-theminute reports, photos, audio, and video footage of global social justice struggles through its website. Launched during the Seattle WTO protests of late 1999, Indymedia is a fascinating, colorful site. Updated regularly. Great graphics.

The Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism — The IPCB is organized to assist indigenous peoples in the protection of their genetic resources, indigenous knowledge, and cultural and human rights from the negative effects of biotechnology.

Corporate Accountability International — A non-partisan national grassroots organization whose purpose is to stop life-threatening abuses by transnational corporations. Articles posted on their website, like “The Marlboro Man Goes Overseas,” could be used with students.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy — The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, and advocacy. Their website includes background readings, articles, and forums on vital issues of agriculture and trade.

Institute for Global Communications (IGC) — “The mission of IGC is to advance the work of progressive organizations and individuals for peace, justice, economic opportunity, human rights, democracy and environmental sustainability through strategic use of online technologies.” IGC is an outstanding resource, with a fabulous search engine that is linked to social justice networks of all kinds.

Institute for Policy Studies — An important think tank on global issues from a social justice perspective. IPS has programs on Peace and Security, the Global Economy, and Paths for the 21st Century, supplemented by several projects that address specific issues.

International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) — iEARN is a nonprofit organization made up of almost 4,000 schools in over 90 countries. It aims to empower teachers and young people (K-12) to work together online at low cost through a global telecommunications network.

International Rivers Network — IRN is an important network that works to support communities around the world struggling to protect rivers and watersheds. They see this work as part of a movement for “environmental integrity, social justice and human rights.” IRN’s website is a valuable source of information about global water struggles.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility — A coalition of 275 Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish institutional investors that organizes corporate campaigns to press companies to be socially and environmentally responsible. Publishes the newsletter, The Corporate Examiner.

International Forum on Globalization — Begun as an alliance of over 60 scholars, activists and writers, the IFG has sponsored important conferences to evaluate the social and environmental impact of globalization. They have published numerous booklets. Their website features worthwhile resources on the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among others.

International Labor Organization — The ILO is the UN agency that promotes internationally recognized human and labor rights. The organization maintains a searchable website on labor issues of all kinds, such as child labor, and includes useful articles, links, and reports.

International Labor Rights Forum — The ILRF is a nonprofit organization that takes action on behalf of working people, and creates innovative programs and enforcement mechanisms to protect workers’ rights. Current campaigns include child labor, monitoring labor rights in China, sweatshops, forced labor in Burma, and examining IMF/World Bank practices. Provides detailed information on the effects of NAFTA.

Jobs With Justice — A national campaign, with local affiliates, to organize support for workers’ rights struggles. JwJ’s Student Labor Action Project is an initiative focused on supporting student activism around issues of workers’ rights as well as social and economic justice. Extensive information on current campaigns at their website.

MADRE — An international women’s human rights organization that works in partnership with women’s community-based groups in conflict areas worldwide. Our programs address issues of sustainable development, community improvement and women’s health; violence and war; discrimination and racism; self-determination and collective rights; women’s leadership development; and human rights education. MADRE provides resources and training to enable our sister organizations to meet immediate needs in their communities and develop long-term solutions to the crises they face.

Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network — A volunteer network of occupational health and safety professionals providing information, technical assistance and on-site instruction regarding workplace hazards in the over 3,800 “maquiladora” (foreign-owned export-oriented assembly plants) along the U.S.-Mexico border. Their website includes excellent resources and links on maquiladora health and safety issues.

National Labor Committee — NLC’s goal is to “end labor and human rights violations, ensure a living wage tied to a basket of needs, and help workers and their families live and work with dignity” ÷ through education and activism. The organization, under director Charles Kernaghan, has been one of the most effective groups in raising awareness about super-exploitation and horrific conditions in global sweatshops. The National Labor Committee is the producer of some valuable videos and reports on sweatshop and labor rights issues around the world (see, for example, the videos Zoned for Slavery and Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti).

Teaching for Change — Teaching for Change publishes excellent multicultural, global justice teaching materials, such as the Caribbean Connection series and the widely used Beyond Heroes and Holidays. The Teaching for Change catalog is the single best source for resources to rethink and teach about globalization.

One World International — One World is “a community of organizations working from a range of perspectives and backgrounds to promote sustainable development and human rights.” Described as the “global supersite on sustainable development and human rights,” this is truly an amazing website, filled with photo galleries, news, special country reports, campaigns, and the like.

Oxfam America — Oxfam America is dedicated to creating lasting solutions to hunger, poverty, and social injustice through long-term partnerships with poor communities around the world. Their website features lots of educational materials and links to other global education sites.

Prison Activist Resource Center — The source for progressive and radical info on prisons and the criminal prosecution system.

Rainforest Action Network — RAN works to protect the earth’s rainforests and support the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action. Theirs is a must-visit, comprehensive website that includes a wealth of information, including ideas for activities and activism with students, classroom-friendly fact sheets, and links to indigenous rainforest groups. RAN has a Beyond Oil Campaign that should be of interest to students who are responsive to activities in Rethinking Globalization’s chapter on consumption and the environment.

Resource Center of the Americas — The Resource Center provides information and develops programs that demonstrate connections between people of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Over the years they have published a great deal of curriculum in this area. Their website includes an on-line catalog of these and other classroom materials, along with resources on critical issues about the Americas.

Rethinking Schools — Its quarterly journal, Rethinking Schools, is produced largely by classroom teachers with a focus on social justice and equity. The website contains this entire resource list with all website addresses hot-linked, so all you need to do is click on them and you are taken to each site. The Rethinking Schools website also features a number of additional articles on teaching about globalization, including further resources and lesson plans that are mentioned in this book. Rethinking Schools publishes Rethinking Columbus and Rethinking Our Classrooms, volumes 1 and 2.

Schools for Chiapas — An organization working in solidarity with the struggles in Chiapas, Mexico. Mobilizes people and resources to build schools in Chiapas. The organization also sponsors trips to study Spanish and Mayan language and culture in Chiapas. The website features news articles, historical information and other resources.

TransAfrica Forum — TransAfrica Forum provides commentary and scholarship on policy issues related to Africa and the Caribbean. The organization seeks to educate Americans in general, and African Americans in particular, on human rights and global economic policy. Reports on TransAfrica’s website deal with issues such as the Sub-Saharan Africa debt burden, the impact of tourism in the Caribbean, and landmines.

UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) — UNITE was formed by the merger of two of the nation’s oldest unions, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU). UNITE’s website offers information on campaigns against sweatshops, as well as government and organizational links.

United Farm Workers — Affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the UFW is the oldest and most prominent farm worker union in the United States. Their website includes links, current news articles, updates, and background white papers, such as “Fingers to the Bone: United States Failure to Protect Child Farm Workers,” “Fields of Poisons: California Farm Workers and Pesticides,” “Five Cents for Fairness: The Case for Change in the Strawberry Fields,” “Trouble on the Farm: Growing Up With Pesticides in Agricultural Communities,” and “Pesticides in Our Food and Water.”

UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Fund — UNICEF produces educational materials and distributes funds to children’s programs throughout the world. Their annual The State of the World’s Children provides useful statistics.

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Convenient and Inconvenient Youth Voice

Freechild Project retreat participants in Seattle, Washington

Many well-meaning adults who advocate for youth engagement too often consider only those elements of the younger population with which they are familiar. This is comfortable and convenient for adults, but it doesn’t fully address realities regarding young people today.

Identifying aspects of youth engagement as convenient or inconvenient doesn’t convey a value judgment; it simply acknowledges an existing condition.

Convenient Youth Engagement happens whenever adults know who is going to be engaged, what is going to happen, where and when it will happen, and what the outcomes will be. Adults might not have written the whole script for youth engagement, but what’s going to be said is no surprise to them.

Inconvenient Youth Engagement takes place when young people become engaged in ways that aren’t predictable. They share ideas, shout out thoughts, take action or critique harshly. They do things that adults don’t know, understand, approve of or otherwise predict.

The difference between these two situations depends on context, including location, position and circumstance. A young person’s race, socio-economic status, gender, educational attainment or other characteristics frequently determines how engagement is perceived. A particular instance of youth engagement may be heard or ignored, approved or disapproved, praised or penalized by older adults.

 

The Freechild Project Youth/Adult Partnerships Tip Sheet
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The cover of Facing Adultism by Adam Fletcher
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Adult Perspectives of Youth

Check Your Perspective exercise by The Freechild Project

Successful youth engagement depends on developing mature, respectful relationships between the generations. This model illustrates a continuum of adult perspectives of youth, starting at apathy and leading to the ideal of solidarity.

Perspectives of Young People by Adam Fletcher

Apathy

Apathy occurs when individuals or groups are indifferent towards youth and young adults. Apathy is obvious when an organization involved in civic life or community development doesn’t have outreach specifically for youth and young adults.

Pity

This perspective represents a completely top-down perspective by older adults toward youth and young adults. Pity takes away the ability of youth to change the world by erasing their self-esteem and their sense of urgency and purpose. Pity is apparent when programs present activities to youth and young adults with no consideration of whether they want or need those activities or whether they could provide them for themselves.

Sympathy

Sympathy is apparent when adults give youth what they apparently cannot acquire for themselves. These may be physical things, time or money, offered from a position of compassion. Sympathetic actions may make older adults feel better about themselves, but the process disengages youth from actively creating knowledge or resources. Sympathy is another topdown perspective, positioning adults to give without acknowledging the receipt of anything in return.

Empathy

Reciprocity is at the core of an empathetic perspective of youth, which allows adults to see youth in a more equitable way. Each person acknowledges the other as a partner, and each is invested in the outcomes of the others’ perspective.

Solidarity

Solidarity allows for complete equity, fully recognizing the benefits and challenges in relationships between older adults and youth. Possibilities abound.

Adults can use this model to critically and creatively reflect on their own attitudes, behaviors and perspectives toward youth. As individuals and groups develop the skills and attitudes to achieve solidarity with youth, their efforts and programs will become more successful.

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Youth and Foster Care

Youth are changing the world right now.

Despite how they’re often treated, young people in the foster care system are powerful beyond measure. Even though they rarely have significant and meaningful opportunities to share their concerns and ideas or make meaningful decisions about the systems that control their lives, youth and foster care often need each other. Transforming foster care by empowering children and youth in foster care is absolutely vital. Rather than focusing on speaking for children and youth or doing things to children and youth, the foster care system should take action with young people to improve the system and outcomes.

Don’t try to silence me or my thoughts on being adopted. I have a voice, and everything I say is the truth and valid. I have been through it, therefore, I know. This is my story. — Source unknown

 

Ways Youth can Change the World through Foster Care

Youth as Decision-Makers — Young people in foster care should have substantial opportunities to make decisions for themselves. Adults should teach children and youth healthy and successful decision-making skills, and facilitate decision-making for every children and youth in foster care to experience personal, group and systemic decision-making, too.

Youth Evaluation — Positioning youth as evaluators can provide meaningful, applicable and real ways to change the world through foster care. Whether evaluating their placements, support services, counselors or other individuals and activities that affect them directly, or integrating them throughout community-wide evaluation activities, young people in foster care can share powerful assessments of their world.

Community Youth Development — In addition to teaching foster youth independent living skills, it is essential they learn how to rely on others throughout their communities in healthy, supportive and empowering ways. Interdependent living skills can be learned through community youth development strategies that are designed to integrate foster children and foster youth throughout their communities, whether geographic, cultural or otherwise.

 

Things Youth Need to Change the World through Foster Care

Opportunities — Foster care is an adult-driven system with adult-determined goals operated by adults for the benefit of adults, all focused on children and youth. Young people need substantial, relevant and meaningful opportunities to affect the system. These should not be tokenistic, belittling, demeaning, manipulative or otherwise negative. Instead, they should be equitable, geared towards youth/adult partnerships and transformative for everyone involved, including children, youth and adults.

Training — Whether they’re learning how to transform foster care in group homes, in nonprofits, through government programs, with foundations, or through the media, children and youth in foster care should have significant training. Their skills should be developed to ensure successful action, while their knowledge should be shared to encourage meaningful personal development.

Technology — Using every technology available to them, children and youth in foster care can change the world. Texting can increase communication and community building among youth in foster care, while social media can help ensure that foster childrens’ voices are heard. Building websites and forming organizations online can further systemic goals focused on youth engagement, while access to the Internet can be a building block for further action.

 

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