Youth rights

Youth rights

Youth rights refers to a set of philosophies intended to enhance civil rights for young people. They are a response to the perceived oppression of young people, with advocates challenging ephebiphobia, adultism and ageism through youth participation, youth/adult partnerships, and ultimately, intergenerational equity.


First emerging as a distinct movement in the 1930s, youth rights have long been concerned with civil rights and intergenerational equity. Tracing its roots to youth activists during the Great Depression, youth rights has influenced the civil rights movement, opposition to the Vietnam War, and many other movements. Since the advent of the Internet youth rights is gaining predominance again.Fact|date=February 2008

Key issues

Of primary importance to youth rights advocates are historical perceptions of young people, which they say are informed by paternalism, adultism and ageism in general, as well as fears of children and youth.

Youth rights advocates believe those perceptions inform laws throughout society, including age of consent, child labor laws, right-to-work laws, curfews, drinking age, driving age, emancipation of minors, minors and abortion, closed adoption, corporal punishment, the age of majority, and military conscription.

There are specific set of issues addressing the rights of youth in schools, including zero tolerance, "gulag schools", "In loco parentis", and student rights in general. Homeschooling, unschooling, and alternative schools are popular youth rights issues.

A long-standing effort within the youth rights movement has focused on civic engagement. There have been a number of historical campaigns to increase youth voting rights by lowering the voting age and the age of candidacy. There are also efforts to get young people elected to prominent positions in local communities, including as members of city councils and as mayors.

Strategies for gaining youth rights that are frequently utilized by their advocates include developing youth programs and organizations that promote youth activism, youth participation, youth empowerment, youth voice, youth/adult partnerships and intergenerational equity between young people and adults.


The "youth rights movement", also described as "youth liberation", is a nascent grass-roots movement whose aim is to fight against ageism and for the civil rights of young people - those "under the age of majority", which is 18 in most countries. It is ostensibly an effort to combat pedophobia and ephebiphobia throughout society by promoting youth voice, youth empowerment and ultimately, intergenerational equity through youth/adult partnerships. [Fletcher, A. (2006) " [ Washington Youth Voice Handbook] " Olympia, WA: CommonAction.]

Advocates of youth rights distinguish their movement from the children's rights movement, which they argue advocates changes that are often restrictive towards children and youth, and which they accuse of paternalism, pedophobia, and adultism.Fact|date=March 2007 They point out distinctions between 1970s youth liberation literature and child rights literature from groups such as the Children's Defense Fund. [Axon, K. (n.d.) [ "The Anti-Child Bias of Children's Advocacy Groups"] Chicago, IL: Americans for a Society Free of Age Restrictions.]

Organizations in Europe

International youth rights organizations include Article 12 in Scotland and K.R.A.T.Z.A. in Germany. Youth for Human Rights International is an organization formed in 2001. In support of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education from 1995 to 2004, Youth for Human Rights International's first project was to launch a Europe-wide essay writing contest for youth between the ages of eight and eighteen, in coordination with Friends of the United Nations. [ Youth for Human Rights.] Retrieved 9/27/07.]

Organizations in the United States

The National Youth Rights Association is the primary youth rights organization in the United States, with local chapters across the country and constant media exposure. The organization known as Americans for a Society Free from Age Restrictions is also an important organization, although they have not yet attained the prominence of the National Youth Rights Association. The Freechild Project has gained a reputation for interjecting youth rights issues into organizations historically focused on youth development and youth service through their consulting and training activities. The Global Youth Action Network engages young people around the world in advocating for youth rights, and Peacefire provides technology-specific support for youth rights activists.

Choose Responsibility and their successor organization, the Amethyst Initiative, founded by Dr. John McCardell, Jr., exist to promote the discussion of the drinking age, specifically. Choose Responsibility focuses on promoting a legal drinking age of 18, but includes provisions such as education and licensing. The Amethyst Initiative, a collaboration of college presidents and other educators, focuses on discussion and examination of the drinking age, with specific attention paid to the culture of alcohol as it exists on college campuses and the negative impact of the drinking age on alcohol education and responsible drinking.

Prominent individuals

Youth rights, as a philosophy and as a movement, has been informed and is led by a variety of individuals and institutions across the United States and around the world. In the 1960s and 70s John Holt, Richard Farson, Paul Goodman and Neil Postman were regarded authors that spoke out about youth rights throughout society, including education, government, social services and popular citizenship.

Alex Koroknay-Palicz has become a vocal youth rights proponent, making regular appearances on television and in newspapers. Mike A. Males is a prominent sociologist and researcher who has published several books regarding the rights of young people across the United States. Robert Epstein is another prominent author who has called for greater rights and responsibilities for youth. Several organizational leaders, including Sarah Fitz-Claridge of Taking Children Seriously, Bennett Haselton of Peacefire and Adam Fletcher of The Freechild Project conduct local, national, and international outreach for youth and adults regarding youth rights.

ee also

*List of articles related to youth rights
*List of the youngest mayors in the United States
*National Youth Rights Association
*Amethyst Initiative
*Choose Responsibility


External links

* [ The U-18 Movement]
* [ Irish National Youth Website]
* [ Survey of North American Youth Rights] on The Freechild Project website.

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