Important Youth Liberation Tidbits

The purpose of this essay is to provide important info about what is going on in the various orgs and individuals fighting for youth rights to those who are either active or interested in becoming active in the youth lib movement, or for those who simply would like to find out more info about this growing political movement.

I have attempted to make this essay as reader-friendly as possible by dividing each youth lib topic into separate items that all interested readers can peruse either one at a time, or two at a time, or whatever your reading tolerance level or time constraints may permit.

Many excerpts from the various items I discuss will be quoted down below, and each of these quotes will be presented in bold face or as blockquotes.

A list of my online sources for all of the below info and quotes appears at the bottom of this page.

One important thing I need to mention regarding links, both "hot" and "cold": As everyone who has been online for more than a few months of their lives is doubtless aware, links have a notorious tendency to get "broken" as time passes and websites are reorganized, neglected, ejected from their host servers, or put on hiatus for whatever reason. As a result, I can never guarantee that any links up on this site will remain unbroken, and I apologize for the frustration and inconvenience that occurs for any of my visitors if and when this should happen.

I will endeavor to periodically review the integrity of the links that appear on this page, and either replace them with new links to the articles in question or failing that, note via brackets that the site or page formerly containing them are down for the time being. Accordingly, information from articles that are presently down have been preserved in the body of this page from where I excerpted them prior to they're becoming inactive. I will also periodically search for new online locations for each of these "lost" articles. Thank you for bearing with me on this.

Now, onto the items.

Item #1: Robert Epstein, the author of the groundbreaking 2007 book The Case Against Adolescence, has completed an updated version of that tome which will enhance the points he made in the first book. It's called Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence, which was published on April 14th, 2010. The release of the book is to coincide with the first annual National Youth Rights Day. Not only that, but Epstein has since entered the youth lib movement in full steam and is now acting as an official adviser for NYRA (National Youth Rights Association), the largest and most influential youth lib org in America.

Here's another interesting thing about this latest book of Epstein's. I remember how odd I thought it was when I noted that Rush Limbaugh--of all people!--actually supports Epstein's idea of ending the concept of adolescence as we know it in today's society, and for establishing full rights for adolescents under 18. Well, since then, Limbaugh's fellow right-wing loudmouth Newt Gingrich has been doing the same thing! I would never have imagined that I would ever be on the same side with the likes of Limbaugh and Gingrich, or any of their "neocon" brethren, on any issue whatsoever (save for defense of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution). And to think that these neocons actually have a more open-minded perspective of this particular topic and a fledgling acceptance of the platform of youth liberation than most pundits in the mainstream Left! Once again, this should cast shame on the mainstream left-wingers out there, and it will be even a bigger shame (of enormous magnitude, in fact) if youth liberation in general becomes affiliated with the the policies of the Right, and the mainstream Left actually end up opposing it for this reason (after all, the Left takes a lot of pride in bragging about the fact that they were the cause of child labor becoming illegal in America, a policy which youth liberationists are struggling to reverse).

Then again, I believe it quite likely that Limbaugh and Gingrich are not supporting youth lib for altruistic reasons but possibly because it somehow serves the greater good of their beloved free market system in some fashion as opposed to the greater good of the youth community (I will speculate more on this in a future essay). Still, even if the latter guess of mine is true, these obnoxious conservative mouthpieces are nevertheless doing the right thing even if it's for the wrong reasons, and the progressives and liberals should take heed and not allow these Far Right entities to become the political tendency that many youth liberationists support in the future. It's bad enough that so many young intellectuals are being seduced by conservative politics these days as it is, including the trend towards neo-liberalism and its far-reaching support for fully unregulated capitalism. I am glad that (as I note in one of the below items) the Far Left is making great strides towards encouraging their fellows in accepting youth lib on a widespread basis, so therein lies the possibility and the hope that the 'gentlemen' and 'ladies' on the Right do not co-opt youth lib as a platform seen as strictly a part of their own political tendency in the future.

Item #2: The great youth lib org ASFAR (Americans for a Society Free from Age Restrictions) is now up on Facebook. Its site is currently down for reasons I'm unaware of, though it has taken a hiatus in the past, and always come back strong. I'm confident that will be the case this time, as well.

In the meantime, I'm going to give some highlights on some of ASFAR's position papers in the past, which I am hoping will be back up as soon as possible, either on their Facebook page, or on a new website. As soon as this is the case, I will update this page to provide a link. In the meantime, this will keep them "active" in some capacity until the org can re-post them online.

ASFAR's position paper on eliminating age restrictions for voting is very compelling and refutes all of the most common attacks on that essential right for younger people. Reading this position paper makes it quite clear why the ballot is so important for youths under 18 to achieve. A few particularly noteworthy excerpts are provided just below.

All citizens, regardless of their age, deserve the right to vote. If that right was not abridged on the basis of age, our politicians would be forced to recognize the views of a major section of the population that is currently ignored [emphasis mine]. As it stands, the only voice for young people that politicians have any incentive to listen to is that of adult-run "child advocacy" groups, which often seek to encroach upon the civil rights of young people in the name of their "best interest." It is a fallacy that any person can be relied upon to represent the points of views or best interests of another person or group of people.

[The common assertion that] young people are uninterested in making political decisions [emphasis in original]. It's not as if most people over the age of 18 are interested in doing so; we live in a nation where less than half of registered voters vote in presidential elections. The existence of youth rights organizations such as ASFAR is proof that many young people do in fact care about making political decisions. However, it may be true that some young people are apathetic to politics precisely because of the fact that they are not allowed to vote. What incentive do young people have to take an interest in politics when their opinions are not counted? Regardless, this objection is logically ridiculous. Those that lack the political interest to vote won't do so. Those that have the interest will.

And how many times have we heard this particular objection to allowing younger people to vote that ASFAR addresses with the following quote:

That young people are incapable of making responsible political decisions [emphasis in original]. The justification for this claim is that young people lack the political knowledge necessary to make informed decisions. Like most other age-based generalizations, this is an unfair statement to make about an entire group of people [emphasis mine]. However, it is generally acknowledged that most adults are not well-informed about politics and vote frivolously, without seriously researching their options. If this is not considered a suitable reason for barring any adult from voting, then how can it be considered reason enough to bar all young people from voting [emphasis mine]?

All the arguments in support of the voting age refer to specific concerns, neatly ignoring the question of whether our government even has the right to bar an entire class of people from voting for any reason [emphasis mine]. As John Adams said in 1776:

It is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end of it. New claims will arise: women will demand a vote; lads from twelve to twenty-one will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing will demand an equal voice with any other in all acts of state.

In regards to another aspect of youth rights that is often discussed, please take a look at ASFAR's position paper on educational freedom. A few important highlights follow:

ASFAR notes that the American education system,
Fails to level the playing field for all [emphasis in original]. By branding as failures students whose backgrounds, personalities, or talents do not conform with the established curriculum, schools hamper those students' chances of making successful use of the talents they do possess.

Because primary and secondary education is compulsory, it is seen as undesirable, something which one must be forced to endure. In the public school experience, students learn to do the least amount of work which will earn an acceptable grade. This attitude often lasts a lifetime.

And here is an argument from the above position paper in regards to the youth liberation position of ending age segregation in schools:

Make public education available to people of all ages [emphasis in original]. Instead of cramming all of the education into a person's first eighteen years of life, and expecting that knowledge to be sufficient for a lifetime, does it not make more sense to spread out the educational experience? Allowing adults to enroll in public school classes would eliminate the permanence of early decisions, which may later be regretted. With public education open to all ages, the adult who wishes he had studied calculus, or French, or auto repair, still can. The state may still limit the amount of public education a person can receive for free, without prescribing the ages at which a person may take advantage of it.

Since I fully believe that education must be a continuing process that occurs throughout one's life, and that it's vital for people in many important vocations to continue to receive new education as new advances in these fields are made (e.g., the medical field, the engineering field, the education field) one must not be expected to receive all their education at a certain time of their lives only. And for the record, I believe that public education should always be free of charge, and that the state should never charge money no matter how long someone takes new courses because it may be quite necessary for them to continue their education throughout their lives. But that is a whole other topic in the realm of economics that is not really related to youth lib per se, so I won't go into it any further here.

Item #3: In 2006, young politician Brett McClafferty attempted to run for mayor in his home city of Streetsboro, Ohio at the age of 18 and lost coming in second by just one vote while going up against seven other candidates. In 2004 at age 16, he founded Universal Online Company LLC., which provided web solutions to area residents. He has since started an org called Young Citizens for a Better Streetsboro, which is designed to get youths native to his home town involved in politics. This article describes McClafferty's fight against an attempt by his city council to ban young candidates on blatantly ageist grounds.

Some years ago he wrote a book, The Age of Politics, which garnered criticism from its sole reviewer on for McClafferty's error for not hiring an editor, and all the grammatical and flow problems that resulted from it. This should serve as a general reminder to all published authors that a good editor is essential. However, this particular reviewer, of course, took this mistake as a reason to hit McClafferty with this snide ageist comment: "One thing that I came to conclude after at last coming to the end of this book was that Mr. McClafferty clearly demonstrates by his lack [sic] knowledge, incoherency, and immaturity why there are age requirements to hold political office."

To give this reviewer some proper perspective, I provided the following comment.

For those who may be too lazy to click on the link, here is what I said verbatim:

"It does seem that Mr. McClafferty wrote this book without hiring an editor, and your criticisms along those lines are entirely justified. Let me say that up front, and extend that critique to the author myself.

However, that cannot justify this following ageist statement of yours: "One thing that I came to conclude after at last coming to the end of this book was that Mr. McClafferty clearly demonstrates by his lack knowledge, incoherency, and immaturity why there are age requirements to hold political office." There are many adult politicians well noted for not being articulate writers or speakers, and almost all of them routinely have their public speeches written for them by those who are hired specifically for that purpose. Some presidents, most specifically George Bush the junior, was notorious for his lack of knowledge of just about anything that didn't have to do with Texas, and it was only his family's great wealth and political influence - not to mention favor with the elite ruling class - that enabled him to get into the Oval Office. His "maturity" came with no special knowledge of any kind, and he did much to devastate the country, not to mention the world, with both the few actual decisions he made, and the many more decisions made by the real adult powers behind him, such as Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rove.

Moreover, there are many adult authors who make similar mistakes to Mr. McClafferty: Self-publishing a book and not hiring a professional editor, or going through a small indie publisher who do not make use of good editors. The result is much the same with them as you see here. But we don't blame it on their age; we blame it on their lack of having acquired a proper editor. Many small indie publishers do not have this problem, of course, but a few of them do, and when that is the case, it invariably shows in the finished literary product. Of course, when adults make the same errors that youths, we don't blame it on an arbitrary factor, but on the factor that it should be blamed on: Lack of editorial oversight. And every writer, no matter how old, or professional and experienced, needs a good editor, and preferably more than one (several indie publishers use a beta editor in addition to the main editor). Self-publishers have the responsibility to hire a good editor, but not the obligation; the results of not fulfilling this responsibility speak for themselves, with this being the case as much for adult authors it is for any young author, politician, etc.

In fact, many adult politicians who are not good writers have published articulate biographies because they can afford to hire ghost writers. How often are they called on this by the mainstream press when such a thing is discovered, however? Instead, too many people tend to assume that being a good and articulate writer somehow goes hand-in-hand with being a politician, and that this in turn goes hand-in-hand with being an adult, etc. Such a thing is not the case, I'm sorry to say.

If you perused the posts regularly made by many young posters on the I Support Youth Rights and other emerging youth liberationist pages on Facebook, you would see a great deal of very articulate, logical, and coherent speakers, many of whom are younger than Mr. McClafferty, and all of whom had no editors other than themselves. Compare this to many posts made across social networking sites and in the comments section on any given website by adult posters - including here on Amazon, as well as with the reviews - and you will see a surfeit of incoherent ramblings and poor grammar that are far worse than those which may have pervaded Mr. McClafferty's book.

Just some perspective here, rocket3, regarding that comment of yours.

Item #4: Those interested in the topic of youth liberation should check out the website It has many fine essays and notes on youth liberation by an exceptionally fine youth lib author named Sven Bonnichsen. One of the best highlights is this thoughtful anecdote from Sven about his resistance to the idea that a competency test should be given to underagers before they can be allowed to vote (which contrasts with some of Robert Epstein's stated goals), along with how this matter intertwines with the related subject of the need for democratic schooling systems:

For most folks out there, if we talk about lowering the voting age, their gut reaction is to ask for some kind of competency test. To some degree, I think that reaction is inspired by the notion that youth are supposed to be being tested, because that's what they do in school. If we lived in a society without compulsory schooling, then questions about testing competency would be less likely to arise. If we won the vote, I think it would raise questions about what school is actually supposed to accomplish...
Do you sense that many people feel school is what gives you the right to vote?

Bonus thought: Public schools are an arm of the government. They are the aspect of government that most personally impacts (most) youth on a daily basis. It seems to me that before we have a good shot at winning the vote, we'll need to establish something like democracy within the schools. If youth experience democratic participation at this very local level, the notion that they should have the right to participate in national decision-making will logically follow [emphasis mine]. [Of course, this is a harder fight. With the vote, you need to make one critical change to the U.S. Constitution. With schools, you may have to change thousands of institutions individually.(--SB)]

Something to consider, eh?

In the following section of his site, Sven gives a particularly noteworthy refutation of some of the most common claims by people in today's society that adultism is not actually a form of oppression. A few highlights that we should all consider:

Someone might argue this: "If you're black, or if you're a woman, there's no way to escape your identity. When you're a young person, however, all you have to do is wait long enough, then the limits on your civil rights will go away. All youth are experiencing is a waiting period -- not a true denial of rights."

Part of what makes the legal aspects of adultism oppressive is that minors aren't allowed to transcend strictures by demonstrating merit; the limits on youths' rights are applied across the board. How long should a person be forced to live in such a state? It seems simply callous to me, to say that wrongful treatment doesn't matter, so long as it's temporary [emphasis mine].

Another common attack on youth lib that Sven takes on here is the following:

Someone might argue like this: "Kids are handed everything on a platter. They don't have to work, and adults take care of all their needs. They have it easy. That's not oppression!"

I'm not sure whether or not I should even respond to this notion here. It's not really about whether or not adultism should be counted among the ranks of oppressions. It's more a matter of someone not understanding the nature of oppressions in general...

To say that minors are oppressed is not to say that all minors suffer profoundly. Many, perhaps most, young people find ways to live comfortably under repressive laws, and form workable relationships with adults. This is not to say that the laws and relationships with adults are fair. "Oppression" concerns the relationship between two groups -- there are many ways for individuals to navigate life within that overarching relationship. There are privileged black people and privileged women -- and were even at the height of racism's or sexism's history. In order to see that an oppression -- any oppression -- actually exists, we have to look beyond how particular individuals feel, at the big picture.

Item #5: The long-standing online youth lib zine Oblivion was started in 1995, in the early days of the public's access to the Internet as we know it today, and it paved the way for the great youth liberationist movement revival of the late 1990s into the present. Thankfully, some of its issues have been archived online, including this one. I'm always hoping that its original site will go back up, or a new version thereof on another host server, and that a full archive of all of its issues published between 1995 and 2000 will be fully archived. Right now, its original host server seems to be down, so most of its articles cannot be accessed. Nevertheless, I have preserved some highlights of a great representative article by Adele Carpenter from issue #10, which you can read just below:

Neither expected to be part of the activist community, nor always embraced when we are, feared and used as a scapegoat for society at large, and reduced to "precious resources" by those who support us, it is time for young people to stop accepting the top down approaches taken by the adults to "protect us." In truth it is the interests of the establishment that need to be protected from youth. Young people, naturally resistant to subordination and submission, can see an institution for what it is. It is no mistake that our lives are kept on hold for the first eighteen years while we "develop" (or are brainwashed) into rigid patterns of behavior based on class, race, age, and sex and "learn" (or are indoctrinated with) their methods of living and learning.

Here is a great quote from the above mentioned article that should be especially pleasing to not only youth liberationists themselves, but also to adults in general who happen to have a very young-minded persona, which includes yours truly:

Youth liberation raises the bullshit flag on the adultocracy which insists that fun, pleasure, and idealism are things of childhood, and anybody who openly indulges in any of them is "immature."

Adele knows how to tell it like it is without apology, that's for sure.

And lastly...

The oppression of youth is something that may not be so easily recognizable, as we are all conditioned to accept it, even internalize that ageism and invalidate our peers or ourselves. However, the more familiar one becomes with the nature and motivating factors behind the oppression of youth, the more glaringly obvious these injustices become [emphasis mine].

The original addy for the full article is this:

Note to anyone who has print or digital copies of all the issues: get this article, and the rest of the issues, back up online ASAP!

Item #6: There is a great article on youth liberation by author An-ok Ta Chai which was posted on the online anarchist zine Slingshot. While I am not myself an anarchist, I do have some sympathies with them (as I do with most groups considered to be on the "Far Left" of the political spectrum). A growing number of anarchists are highly supportive of the platform of youth lib, and are doing their best to agitate for acceptance of the doctrine into other 'Far Left' tendencies. This will hopefully lead to the eventual acceptance of youth liberation by mainstream liberal circles (with a little luck, such individuals will prevent people on the Right from totally claiming the youth lib platform as their own in the future; the fight for the rights of youths under 18 should not become a partisan issue, anyway). Here are a couple of cool hightlights that all of us should consider strongly:

You can tell a great deal about a society if you look at how they treat their children and their elderly. In our society both children and the elderly are often disconnected from other age groups and forced into institutional settings; schools for children and nursing homes for the elderly. Children are brainwashed into the system and the elderly are forgotten and faded out once their ability to produce and spend capital wanes.

I will point out that while the above is true, at least the elderly still retain their civil rights in most cases, unless they have been declared legally incompetent by the courts due to advanced stages of dementia or other forms of neurological deterioration that results in power of attorney over their affairs being handed over to younger relatives, or to the state in the absence of any of those relatives in their lives, or in even rarer cases if the older adult in question was declared legally incompetent due to a severe addiction to alcohol or institutionalized for serious mental disorders. In the case of the elderly, they at least need special extenuating circumstances in order to lose their civil rights. Otherwise, we let them continue to vote and exercise the rest of their rights, a situation that young people under 18 do not enjoy.

Here is another good one from the above mentioned article:

The often unspoken notion that adults are omniscient, infallible and not dependent upon the help and support of others while kids are very much the opposite is a distortion of reality necessary to construct the social hierarchy of adults over kids. This all becomes very apparent if one reflects on how a proposition to systematically dominate people who are physically ill, injured, ignorant, ill informed, or intoxicated (all of which are also temporary conditions) would be universally laughed at and dismissed.

With the following quote, author Chai unreservedly and boldly refers to the current state of youth oppression as a form of slavery, however benign a form of slavery one may argue that it is. This argument comes up frequently in every community where someone suggests the youth lib movement should be embraced and supported by the community in question, so I figured it was relevant to include the following quote here:

With this being the case, let’s call it like it is - kids are slaves in this society [emphasis mine]. Kids cannot freely disassociate without fear of their parents or the state somehow hunting them down and dragging them back. Kids are forced to go to concentration camps (we call them "schools"). Kids cannot deny or receive medical care at their own will - an adult has to decide for them. Kids do not have ultimate say over their own time, bodies, activities, behaviors and choices - some parental or other adult figure has to determine it for them. This is slavery, pure, systemic, out-right slavery. It is slavery based upon the widespread use of violence, the threat of violence, and by emotional manipulation, intimidation and brainwashing [emphasis mine].

Though one can argue that Chai's above words are rather harsh (and they are), they are nevertheless quite true in essence.

Next Chai makes an important point and explains to his fellow anarchists why it's important for their political tendency to support youth lib:

The domination of kids contains within it the very same fundamental dynamics of authority and control that as anarchists, we should actively be opposing. The very act of being subservient, the very act of compliance and submission, the very act of rule and bossing are all at play within the dichotomy of "parental authority figure" and "child," and it is because of this that we need to decisively condemn and attack this horrendous relationship in favor of relations based upon mutual respect, autonomy and free association [emphasis mine; this is the bare essence of what youth liberationists are fighting for].

And finally...

Gerontocracy needs to be right up there with capitalism, the state, patriarchy, and white supremacy as institutions of social control that, as anarchists, we aim to destroy.

It's nice to see that at least many anarchists are identifying youth oppression as a legitimate form of oppression comparable to all other forms of oppressive attitudes and institutions that they oppose, and isn't (as many outside of this community and even some within it have argued) a form of oppression that is somehow more acceptable or more morally justifiable than other types of oppression that existed in the past, such as when blacks were oppressed as chattel slaves.

Item #7: This youth lib article/interview for the revolutionary Znet Magazine by Cynthia Peters will put to rest the very incorrect claim by many in society today that the platform of youth liberation is inherently hostile to the institution of parenthood and that no parent would possibly support it, and that those supporters of youth lib who become parents will inevitably reject their support of the platform once they realize how "irreconcilable" the tenets of youth lib and "good" parenting are (to quote one of these individuals whom I saw posting on an online forum which had a discussion thread about youth lib going on: "Once all of you youth liberationists become parents, then come back and talk to me"). The idea that youth lib and good parenting are mutually exclusive concepts is complete nonsense, and there are many day-to-day examples which prove this myth totally incorrect. Here are some highlights from Peters, who is a mom that is beginning to take the platform of youth liberation seriously since becoming a parent (imagine that!), when she was first asked by interviewer Tim Allen if it's possible for parents to act in non-oppressive ways:

There is no getting around -- nor should there be -- the fact that parents have a lot of power over children. We exercise the greatest power of all, which is deciding to bring children into the world, or, as in the case of adoption, deciding to bring children into our families. Once I bring a child into my family, I continue to exercise a lot of power over her. I decide where she will live, what her name will be, who she will live with, whether she will have siblings, which community subcultures she will experience, what language she will speak, what she will eat, how often she gets a bath, and how much she will be held.

In the following quote, Peters, though not identifying as an anarchist or socialist anywhere in her interview, makes it quite clear that she believes that the material factors faced by many parents in a system based on oppressive socio-economic institutions has a direct effect on why children are currently treated oppressively within society by parents:

So, as a parent, I experience many social and economic and cultural pressures which significantly affect the options I can make available to my child, her opportunities, and values. Making these institutions less oppressive is probably the single most important thing we could do to influence parents to be less oppressive towards their children [emphasis mine]. For example, removing the stress of poverty and of living in a culture that emphasizes marketplace values would liberate parents and children to create families outside the confines of financial concerns [emphasis mine]. When my daughter breaks her arm, my first thought should be concern for her well-being, not dread at how much it will cost and anxiety about how to get time off from work in order to fit in all the Dr.'s appointments. It would be nice for parents and children if we could significantly reduce the amount of time we spend negotiating the pressure to buy Disney products, conform to Disney values, and consume various forms of instant gratification. Parents would be less oppressive with children if they did not have to pass on oppressive behaviors that come with living in violent neighborhoods, near toxic landfills, and in poorly designed cities and suburbs that create overcrowding and/or isolation rather than community [emphasis mine].

Very interesting observations from a parent with heavy youth liberationist leanings, and this coincides with the statements from certain youth lib activists (such as myself, though certainly not all or even the majority) that a system based on inherent economic inequality at its core should be expected to produce inequality in all its institutions, including that of the family structure. I am not saying that I believe that one must be anti-capitalist in order to be a youth liberationist, as there are several youth liberationists in all communities who are pro-capitalist and, as noted in a previous item in this post, right-wing capitalism-worshiping conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have begun supporting youth liberation (though possibly for entirely different reasons than Peters does). And yes, it's entirely possible for an oppressed minority to achieve at least a large degree of equality of opportunity with other members of their respective economic class within the context of the present system, even though the majority of them will continue to experience economic inequality as members of the labor class, though they will no longer experience inequality in the realm of civil rights (as is the case with blacks and women today).

Nevertheless, Peters not only makes some good points worth considering in a general sense, but her left-wing perspective on the current society (which she identifies by its basis on a market economy) also makes it very clear that youth liberation as a platform is very much in harmony with the principles of the Left. Thus, she provides further hope that the mainstream tendency of the Left will rise to the occasion and embrace youth lib in the future and not allow the right-wingers to co-opt it as one of their exclusive policies (as I noted above, an important concern was expressed by a fellow respected youth liberationist, which has his hope that the platform of youth lib will not come to be seen as a strictly "right-wing" or "left-wing" issue in the future, but will actually be embraced by both major political tendencies).

Next, Peters ponders how parents under the current system can behave non-oppressively towards their children, and she responds with some advice that all parents under the current system should consider:

Most important, I think is to acknowledge and take responsibility for the power we exercise. We can't avoid it, but we can be judicious in how we employ it [emphasis mine], and we can use it in such a way that empowers our children as they grow.

More bits of wisdom from a youth liberationist parent:

Parents can do what they have to do to not hurt their children -- emotionally or physically. Parents can be careful NOT to treat our kids as appendages, expressions of our own desires and unfulfilled wishes, or as little human strategies for working out our own childhood issues.

In regards to the great difference between parents applying sensible rules on their kids that are for their own objective safety, as opposed to applying blatantly authoritarian rules that infringe on the kids' basic civil rights and are simply imposed to exert control over them, Peters is well aware of this difference and says:

We can prioritize developing relationships with our kids based in mutual respect, not fear [emphasis mine]. Our authority should be rooted in honestly trying to do what's best for the child. When you say to your kid, "Sure, you can play outside, but please don't cross the street," you're not arbitrarily throwing your weight around. You're looking out for your kid's best interest according to your best judgement of how safe your kid would or wouldn't be crossing the street. Ideally, your kid understands this and basically takes it for granted since you have a long track record of taking good care of him, and he, astutely, has noticed. Thus, the child can get down to the serious work of playing in the yard. If on the other hand, your track record is one of inconsistent use of power, arbitrariness, and mixed signals about how much you care, then your kid is unlikely to pay any attention to even your sensible rules because he, again astutely, has noticed that you care more about being in control, than you care about him [emphasis mine].

So, as you can see, youth liberationists do not favor an "absolutely anything goes" environment with no rules whatsoever for younger children, but simply rules that are sensible and based in common sense, rather than rules which (as Peters mentions) are more based on achieving control over your kids than looking out for their physical safety. And again, Peters' case makes it quite clear that parents are fully capable of adhering to such principles, and are therefore entirely capable of being both parents and youth liberationists simultaneously. Hence, being the former does not automatically result in someone repudiating the principles of the latter, an important point that cannot be over-stressed.

And please note this important observation by Peters in regards to parents acting non-oppressively with their kids under the current system:

We are behaving non-oppressively when we support them to understand, absorb information, analyze, think hard, pursue their curiosity, test their conclusions, be wrong, be right, be confused, be empowered, and show agency in the world. We are behaving non -oppressively towards our children when we role-model for them what it means to interface with the world in a responsible way -- when we do the serious work of being adults -- attempting to affect our world, make it more just, more livable.

Note this extremely insightful analysis of the present totalitarian public school system by Peters and how changing its intrinsic nature could help kids become far more productive members of society at an early age, even as she makes a further condemnation of the present system to which modern schools are a part of:

Imagine the consequences if kids were empowered to reject monotony, develop internal incentives, question authority, and refine the ability to think deeply and thoroughly, rather than skittishly and superficially, about topics that move them. They might actually question the necessity of boring rote work and bosses. They might rebel against the notion that they have more to offer society than what can be extracted from them in terms of their productivity - whether it's filling in the proper oval with their number 2 pencil (as a student), or making consumer gadgets (as a worker) and then consuming them (during their meager leisure time).

Now, just imagine how much change young people would work for in society if they were educated in an entirely democratic institution that accomplished for them what Peters mentions above. Also imagine how our society would be if these young people were able to realize their true potential and develop their critical thinking skills at a much younger age than most people do today.

And, finally, note how Peters discusses how changes in the school system that empowers rather than oppresses kids may be used to make a major case towards the fight to make other fundamental changes in present society which benefit all people in a general sense, particularly the integrity of families:

Let's reconceptualize the long school day, the after-school programs, and the extra-curricular activities. Let's find ways to make children part of the *real* real world. This will have many challenges as it involves such goals as decreasing the work week, eliminating pay discrimination so that being at home with children is not a luxury experienced by the rich, enhancing family supports so that people can make real choices about how to be in families, and addressing gender discrimination which often leaves women responsible for maintaining the family. A tall order, you say? True, but aiming high is not a bad thing to do [emphasis mine], and probably a useful practice to model for our children.

Lastly for this item, I would like to point out that no less a personage than Dr. Robert Epstein himself is a parent to four children. That little bit of info provides further demolition to the claim of many individuals who are hostile towards youth liberation that no parent would ever embrace the cause, or to those who may claim that a parent like Cynthia Peters is unique in the world of youth lib.

Item #8: The next tidbit in this essay is a very good article by youth liberationist Ben O'Meara detailing why (contrary to what many people seem to think) the right to vote is arguably the most essential right for young people under 18 to have, and he offers much evidence from the realm of the social sciences to back this up. The article, offered online through NYRA, is a PDF formatted document that can be downloaded from a location that is listed in my sources for this essay at the bottom of the page.

Though the article is currently down (with NYRA promising it will soon be back up for download), some of its highlights--which deftly illustrate why voting rights may be the most important right for youths under 18 to achieve--have been preserved below:

Any discussion of rights arguably begins and ends with the right to vote. If you have it, all rights are achievable. Without it, whatever rights you have are dubious [emphasis mine]. As has been frequently articulated by the Supreme Court, "no right is more precious in a free country than that of having a choice in the election of those who make the laws under which… we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined" [emphasis mine]. The Court recognized voting as a fundamental right because it is the foundation for and springboard to all other rights [emphasis mine].

Immediately noted by the author following the above quote is one which makes it clear how central the issue of voting rights was to the women's suffrage movement:

In her book on Susan B. Anthony, Failure is Impossible, Lynn Sherr noted that, "what distinguished Anthony from so many others working for women’s rights was her uncompromising insistence that no other right was more central, no other need more pressing. Despite her passionate concern for just marriage laws, for equal pay, for coeducation, Anthony lectured time and time again that the key was suffrage; that without the vote, none of the others would last; that with the vote, all others would flow" [emphasis mine].

This shared perspective between the Court and Anthony is not limited in application to particular groups or individuals. It crosses boundaries of race, gender, abilities, and age. It is just as true for children as it was for women and blacks [emphasis mine]. Although children have been imbued with certain limited rights by the Supreme Court, these rights lack the protection provided by suffrage and children lack the ability to accumulate rights that comes from suffrage [emphasis mine].

This observation by O'Meary, and by no less a personage than Susan B. Anthony long before him, likewise makes a strong refutation of the claim by some that the voting rights of youths are less important than some of their other rights. It would be very difficult for any rights of youths to be secure if their suffrage was not obtained either beforehand or soon afterwards, no matter how "basic" one may believe these other rights to be over and above voting rights. This is why voting rights are emphasized by youth liberationists so strongly, as they are the crux of civil empowerment that enable all other rights to occur, or to provide a strong political foundation for other rights to accumulate afterwards.

O'Meara then very importantly notes:

Every extension of the voting franchise in American history has been met with resistance [emphasis mine]. Whether landless frontiersmen, freed slaves, women, immigrants, or the young, those already enjoying the franchise have warned that the prospective voters lacked the competence and commitment to the community necessary for responsible electoral participation [emphasis mine; sound familiar, people?] Gradually, however, suffrage has broadened to the point where it is now a right inherent in citizenship, rather than a privilege based on wealth, race, or gender [emphasis mine].

As the above observation makes clear, it's absolutely nothing new for resistance to be met in society whenever the argument was made to extend constitutional rights--including voting rights--to any minority group in society that did not previously enjoy them. The argument that youths under the Magic Age of 18 allegedly lack sufficient competence in order to handle voting rights is also far from new and was used against all other groups who did not initially have the right to vote, including white men who didn't own a sufficient amount of property, then later black men (even after they were freed from chattel slavery), then later women. Hence, the argument that these concerns about competence are unique to people under 18 is easily contradicted by a simple study of American history.

O'Meara continues:

In her very timely and relevant article, "What Ever Happened To Children’s Rights?", Martha Minow bemoans the failure of the children’s rights movement and lists as the first cause of failure, the fact that children do not vote and their voice is not adequately represented [emphasis mine]. What Minow intuits is that without the vote children encounter a deaf judicial ear, a blind legislative eye, and a dumb executive voice in their plea for greater rights [emphasis mine]. It is a hallmark of our rights history that unless moved by extraordinary events, overwhelming opposition, or confronted with incontrovertible evidence, rights are not granted simply because it is the right thing to do [emphasis mine].

So much for the anti-historical and utterly ridiculous statement made by some which claims, "If giving civil rights to people under 18 was the right thing to do, then the government would have done it already!" Also, the above quotation by O'Meara makes it clear that the current situation of kids is hardly unique in American history when compared to other minority groups who previously lacked rights.

Next up, O'Meara tackles another all-too common argument used in an attempt to denounce the need for youth suffrage, one that I have heard and refuted numerous times in the past:

A colleague in the LLM program took umbrage to the suggestion that the voting age should be lowered and assertively asked, "why can’t we just let children be children[?]" I think the answer is relatively simple. Are we talking about the millions of children that routinely suffer physical punishment at the hands of their adult caretakers? Are we talking about the hundreds of thousands of children that are sexually victimized by adults? [And note that the great majority of all types of abuse comes from adults who have the strongest and most direct control over those who are today legally labeled as 'minors,' such as a certain number of parents, stepparents, grandparents, teachers at boarding schools, etc. --Insurrectionist]. Are we talking about the millions of children that have no health care available to them? How about the children that our school systems abandon because they are too difficult to teach? And what of the thousands of children waived into the adult criminal justice system? Is this what is meant by "just letting children be children"? Obviously, the children the questioner had in mind do not come from these categories. The children my colleague was speaking of are those that come to mind when we envision them happily playing in the park, chasing each other in games, and lovingly sharing their discoveries with their parents. But these are not the only children.

How many times have I and other activists who include youth liberation as part of our overall political platform made precisely the same observation about the type of conceptual paradigm of children that is pushed on us by modern society since the rise of the Victorian mentality in the mid- to late 19th century?

The extremely cogent observations that end O'Meara's article are of extraordinary importance to the very essence of all youth liberationists regardless of what political tendency they may espouse. These closing arguments are very important for any youth liberationist who may want to make a case for redefining society's current heavily idealized conception of what a 'child' is and what they should be seen as, since it makes comparisons to the vast differences in the way society conceptualized women during their pre-suffrage years as compared to how they are viewed today, many decades after they have earned their suffrage (however incomplete one may argue it remains):

Women suffered longer than necessary from similar arguments. Today, it can truthfully be said that those arguments were in many ways, correct. Women are no longer women as they were before receiving the ballot. The idea of what women are and can become has been completely redefined. Those who warned at the turn of the 20th century that the nature of woman was not suited to the ballot and that women needed to be allowed just to be women were partially right. The vote has contributed to a metamorphosis of womanhood to the point that "just being a woman" today would scare the bejabbers out of a turn of the century man. Today, thankfully, we welcome the changes that have occurred in women’s roles. Their inclusion in all walks of life is now not extraordinary, but ordinary. The changes women have introduced make our lives, culture, and society a more dynamic and enjoyable experience.

Although I take my colleagues' comments seriously, limiting children’s potential based upon our current understanding of what being a child is, is no more acceptable than limiting women’s potential based on a 19th century understanding of what a woman was [emphasis mine]. Just as women have taken their political power and fashioned for themselves protections that exceed what men would have sought, so too should children have the right to explore their potential and the opportunity to alter adult perceptions of what being a child is. A child is no more defined by what adults determine them to be than are women defined by what men determine them to be [emphasis mine]. I submit that only through the right to vote, can children begin to successfully overcome the deeply held prejudices, biases, and stereotypes that adults perpetuate [emphasis mine].

This narrow-mindedness towards children I’ve labeled "infantism." And like sexism and racism, it cannot be effectively addressed until children are part of the political process [emphasis mine].

As you can see from the above quotes, this is the reason why so many youth liberationists (including O'Meara and Minow, along with orgs like NYRA and ASFAR) so strongly stress the importance of giving youths under 18 the vote and the right to enter the general political process of society. And as we have also seen, just as many youth rights activists have pointed out before, other minority groups in the past were assailed by many of the same arguments used today to justify society retaining the position that young people under 18 are in today.

Item #9: British novelist Hilary Mantel, recipient of the 2009 Man Booker Award for her novel Wolf Hall, has taken a bold and courageous pro-youth stance, despite all the opposition she knew she was going to get from the puritanical, anti-youth, and ageist organizations that claim to "advocate" on behalf of the under 16 youth community in her native country. A February, 2010 article in the U.K.'s Telegraph paper by David Harrison reported Mantel saying that Western society is "incredibly hypocritical" when it comes to attitudes in regards to adolescent sex and the idea of young teen girls' readiness for motherhood. The 57-year-old author was recorded as pointing out, "I was perfectly capable of setting up and running a home when I was 14, and if, say, it had been ordered differently, I might have thought 'Now is the time to have a couple of children and when I am 30 I will go back and I'll get my PhD.'"

In an interview that appeared in an early 2010 issue of Stella magazine, Mantel went on record as saying, "But society isn't yet ordered with that kind of flexibility. We were being educated well into our twenties, an age when part of us wanted to become mothers, probably little bits of all of us. Some were more driven than others." Predictably, Mantel has been subjected to all sorts of criticism throughout Britain for her open-minded assessment of young adolescent capabilities, including the typical ageist comments about how teen girls aren't psychologically capable of handling parenthood because they still haven't finished their childhood in many cases, with one agency (the Department for Children, Schools and Families) mentioning how Mantel's stance is "out of line" with government policy (as if this is any surprise, considering how the government has a vested interest in keeping young adolescents in their current status as third class citizens). I'm sure that Mantel expected no less, however. Her detractors totally overlook the fact that childhood has been artificially extended since the turn of the 19th/20th centuries to well into adolescence, and that in past eras girls in their early adolescence were routinely married and ready for starting families. It should be noted that Dr. Robert Epstein likewise makes it clear in his books denouncing the artificial societal conception of "adolescence" that teens should not be dissuaded from marriage and parenthood if this is what they choose (see item #1 in this essay).

Not every voice in Britain echoed the mainstream attitudes towards adolescent competency in regards to parenthood after hearing Mantel's position, however. There have been objective studies done on teen competency in regards to parenthood, including one conducted by the London School of Economics and completed in February of 2010. The latter study was edited by Dr. Claire Alexander entitled, Teen Parenthood: What's the Problem?. In defense of Mantel's statements, Dr. Alexander said, "Young parenthood can make sense and be valued and can even provide an impetus for teenage mothers and fathers to strive to provide a better life for their children."

I should mention here that youth liberationists, including this author, do not advocate teen sex, marriage, or parenthood as being the correct thing to do for all young adolescents, but simply believe it should be a choice for those who personally feel that they are ready for these aspects of their lives. Some will be ready for one or more of these things, and some will not, and they should all have the right to receive a good degree of education and support from an early point in their lives to help enable each of them to decide which choices are best for them as individuals. Mantel simply recognizes their potential as young adults, much as Epstein does. After hearing all the opposition of how teen girls may not be ready for such a responsibility, Mantel made her pro-choice stance quite clear. As reporter David Harrison stated in his article about Mantel's progressive and controversial position on this issue: "The novelist, who was awarded a CBE in 2006, said that women should be able to choose whether to have children when they are teenagers or pursue a career and have children later in life." Mantel summed up this position by saying, "If there were some paradise for women both those models would be valid."

Mantel should be commended for being a true feminist, and not simply what some have referred to as a mere "womanist" (i.e., someone who reserves their feminist ideals of female empowerment, civil rights, and equality of opportunity only for those females who happen to be 18 or older). She clearly recognizes adolescents of all ages as young adults, rather than as simply older children, and if she could reach this level of understanding, then so can the rest of society.

Item #10 The following is info given to me about some of the extraordinary things that adolescents have done in the recent past. The info came from one of my fellow youth liberationists, Ed Yore, and it's quoted from a post he made on a youth lib forum below verbatim:

Young people sailing solo around the world, trying to break records and achieve amazing success. Dangerous? Of course. Incapable and in need of preventative detention based solely on numerical age? Absolutely not!!

Jessica Watson, Australia, age 16. Currently sailing from Sydney, has already rounded Capes Horn and Good Hope (areas of very treacherous seas!) and expected to complete her journey sometime in May after much adult criticism.

Abby Sunderland, U.S., age 16. Sailing in progress again after several problematic attempts. Sailing from California and currently in the southern Pacific, expected to round Cape Horn in March.

Laura Dekker, Netherlands, age 14. (My hero!!) Planned voyage in September, 2009 when she was still 13. Forcibly restricted from solo sailing around the world by her government, originally based solely on her numerical age, with bogus additional concerns (like falling behind on schoolwork) tacked on later. Removed from her father by child protective services, later fled her country in secret to Saint-Martin (possibly by crossing the Atlantic solo!). Spotted and handed over to Dutch authorities and interrogated. Original court was finally overruled in December. She's now expected to set sail from Portugal by September 2010, which will be right around her 15th birthday. (Seems they held her captive without resolution just to ensure she would be older. Sounds quite illegal to me. Shame on you, Netherlands!)

Current record for youngest age solo circumnavigation is held by an Australian male [David Dicks], age 18.

I think the only sensible option here is for youths who plan such a long and dangerous voyage to pass a psychological exam for emotional maturity and stability of mind, in addition to obvious demonstrations of skills and experience. Those examinations should be conducted by multiple professionals found to be neutral in their personal opinions, and an appeal should be permitted. Further, no amount of classroom study can possibly compare to the many incredibly important lessons and wisdom which would be gained from up to a year or two at sea. There is always time for classroom study later.

Finally, I think it should be understood that there is always a possibility that a sad tragedy could occur, and that a single such tragedy does not negate the immense positive benefits, both to the individual and to the many young people who look up to them as role models for their own inspiration to achieve great things. Without this danger, there would be little glory and achievement in the act. It would be reckless and foolish to allow someone so young to do these things without proper experience, skills, mental stability and maturity. However, in a changing world where people are accomplishing amazing feats at younger and younger ages, it is adults who are unreasonable and unenlightened to presume that infantilization and sweeping legal "protections" are any substitute for increased knowledge and empowerment when it comes to youth and safety. In fact, these things are antithetical to the stated purposes of authoritative entities, be it state governments or the U.N.

It is time for them to realize this, and it is time for us to lend our support to youths doing (and trying to do) amazing things.

These girls (and boy) are true heroes. They are brave and adventurous, and they all stand to prove the potential that younger people have to accomplish great things, just as they did in past eras before the current rules went into effect. Just imagine if young people were liberated and free to realize their potential unobstructed by those who, unlike them, presently enjoy the civil rights of legal adulthood. Laura Dekker is a particularly courageous girl to defy her ageist government as she did, and if she received some support from her father in achieving her adventure (which may have been the case) then good for him.

Another member of that forum asked Ed why someone who is "underage" shouldn't be allowed to do something great and important if they can prove that they have the mental and physical ability to accomplish it. My response was this (with all due irony):

Because if too many minors are allowed to prove they are capable of amazing things, it may eventually cause society at large to question their current state of legal and cultural disempowerment. A few kids accomplishing great things can be dismissed as examples of prodigies or as "exceptions to the rule," of course, but if young people begin to accomplish such feats with any degree of regularity, eventually it's going to become clear that those whom we today label "minors" deserve to be treated as full citizens just like anyone who is 18 or over, not third class citizens as they are today.

In regards to Laura Dekker, the youngest of the above mentioned adolescents, one of the commentators on the HuffingtonPost article detailing Laura's situation (see my Sources below), who posts there under the screen name FalstaffsMind, made these important points:

This whole idea that a person at age 14 is still a child is a very recent development historically speaking. Joan of Arc was only 16 when she led the French Army. Of course she was burned at the stake at 19, so maybe that's a bad example. Pocahontas was 12 when she intervened to save John Smith. Sacajawea was 15 when she traversed half the United States on foot with a baby on her back in the company of Lewis and Clark.

Point being, people are quick to label this young women a child, incapable and misguided, but we mint coins and celebrate women her age as historical figures of great import.

Another commenter who uses the screen name Acleacius, made these observations, which were a bit off topic but nevertheless on target:

Truly spoken, I have no idea how this behavior came about here in the U.S., my only guess would be since WW2, religion has stealthed its way, illegally I might add, into the U.S. government. Even through our short history in the U.S., women were married and having children by age 12 and this was going on for thousands of years on the planet before.

Science is even on board with this, several studies have mentioned the lack of a hormone in women is one of the main causes of breast cancer. The hormone is normally released from childbirth in women before the age of 20, iirc.

I am in no way suggesting women should be forced to be married during their teen years, that would be sexist at the very least, but to make a law trying to stop women from having a family when their bodies were designed to have children is criminal in and of itself.

Most probably violates the Equal Rights Amendment, which is probably why the 15 remaining states preventing the amendment from the U.S. Constitution. It would give women too many rights according to religious and right-wing sociopaths.

I am not certain if these two quoted commentators are actually youth liberationists or not, but if they aren't, then they should be commended for displaying such a rare example of open-mindedness and pro-youth sentiment for individuals who were born and raised during the 20th century. Some of the other commentators had much more mainstream responses to the article about Laura, and that is unfortunate but completely expected in this day and age where gerontocracy rules. I would like to say a few things about some of the statements made by these other commentators, including a few who directly responded to the two pro-youth individuals who were quoted above.

Some of the other commentators of the article made all types of common stereotypical assumptions about why someone Laura Dekker's age would choose to make a choice to do something she is so obviously "too young" and "too inexperienced" to do, and again, this is to be expected. It included assumptions that she must be desperate for attention because her parents are divorced, that her father (who has custody of her) must be neglectful or rotten and she left home like she did just to escape from his clutches, etc. These statements are simply assumptions to attempt to rationalize in their ageist minds why a mere "child" like Laura would attempt to do something so important and incredible, and thus behave in a way that they do not think someone her age should behave. This is no different than attitudes expressed towards women in the past when they expressed an interest in doing things such as attending a university to become a professor or even a doctor or a scientist. Obviously, these women must have had husbands who weren't giving them enough attention, or these women were suffering from serious emotional problems to so deviate from the things society believed women were supposed to do and the way they were supposed to behave, right?

One of the ageist commentators made the tired old claim that there are "millions" of examples of young people making foolish and immature decisions, and that the only reason young people were allowed to do great things in the past as opposed to today was because back then we didn't have the "scientific" evidence that the brains of young people are faulty and inherently deficient in decision-making ability. This nonsense has been thoroughly challenged by Dr. Robert Epstein's extensive studies and research, and were recorded in his article "The Myth of the Teen Brain" (published in an issue of the prestigious Scientific American Mind), and his groundbreaking book that he wrote on this subject to date, 2007's The Case Against Adolescence and its 2010 update Teen 2.0 (see Item #1 above and my Sources below). And as youth liberationist Ben O'Meara stated elsewhere in this essay (see Item #8), the main reason so many young people act "immature" these days is because they are raised a certain way and expected to act in a certain manner, much as prior to the late 20th century girls were raised in such a way, and expected to act in such a way, that the average woman in the past acted very differently than they do today, and often displayed far less potential than what the average woman does in our modern society. Further, if that commenter truly believes that "millions" of young people make poor decisions, then how does he/she explain the equal number of adults who do the same? Has he/she and others who think the same ever been politically active or researched the type of decisions that older politicians typically make? All they need to do to find this out is to read the newspaper or go to any political blog online. This individual seriously needs to read Michael Moore's 2004 article, "The Kids Are Alright" (see my Important Links To Youth Liberation Resources And Information down below), and he/she will see firsthand exactly how good the decision-making abilities of older people are in comparison to those that many young people make, including those who are currently too young to legally vote.

As for the commenter who ignorantly argued that many of the historical examples of young people doing great things was probably heavily mythologized, then he/she needs to answer the question as to why people of the past had any reason to fabricate the ages of people who did great things during periods of time when young people had far more rights than they do in today's shameless gerontocentric society. I'm sure that during the era when chattel slavery was still being practiced in America, the many extraordinary accomplishments that black civilizations in the past were responsible for were said to be mythologized too. How else would chattel slavery be justified in the eyes of white historians who lived back then? I once worked with a white, well educated bigot who seriously believed that the great ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt was dominated by a white ruling class, and that all the people of color living in those societies were slaves of the free white people. I am not making this up! Sound familiar? And if any time period is guilty of fabricating the truth in this regard, it's the present era; otherwise, why would all modern cinematic depictions of Pocahontas, for instance, always depict her as being clearly over the age of 18? This includes the Disney version of her story. So are we absolutely sure that it was people of the past who were doing the mythologizing in regards to the ages of some of the individuals who accomplished great things? I think it's safe to guess that if Leonardo De Vinci was born in the 20th century, he may never have accomplished what he did during an era when those we today label 'minors' weren't prohibited from doing great things before they turned 18. It's entirely understandable why someone like this aforementioned commenter would believe that these historical examples of so many young people doing incredible things prior to the Industrial Revolution must have been mythologized, or how it's possible that young people back then acted so differently than the way so many young people act today. Could it have been because they were raised and treated completely differently by the adults who lived back then, and that the expectations of their behavior may have been very different than today? Perish the thought, right? Laura Dekker and the other above mentioned examples of 'underagers' who have recently either done or attempted to do incredible things are clearly individuals who are simultaneously behind the times and ahead of their time.

Important update: On December 19, 2010, Laura Dekker successfully reached Sint Maarten, thus becoming the youngest person to ever cross the Atlantic entirely on their own. This courageous girl deserves every commendation imaginable for her incredibly inspirational accomplishment, as does her dad for believing in her above the admonitions of the "concerned" (read: ageist) officials of her government, as well as the naysayers whose comments were noted above. What she did was indeed very risky, and should not be done without an extreme degree of training and experience, but if it wasn't so risky, Laura would not have proven that young people under the Magic Age of 18 were capable of accomplishing amazing things, and thus deserve to be treated as first class citizens with full civil rights. To Laura: you go, girl!!!

Item #11 One classic book from the history of the youth liberation movement that I would like to bring to your attention is the now out of print but still greatly important Birthrights by Richard Farson. This book was published in 1974, and was written during a period of time when youth liberation was just beginning to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, with the conservative takeover of government that began in 1980 with Reagan's election to the presidency and the sex abuse hysteria (both of which are still going on today), the youth lib movement was set back tremendously. This situation remained until the advent of public access to the Internet in the mid-1990s brought us the youth lib web zine Oblivion and youth lib orgs such as ASFAR and NYRA (see previous items in this essay). But looking back to the liberal era of the '70s, Farson's aforementioned tome stands out and I would like to provide some quotes here from early in the book, where the author mentions the very essence of youth liberation:

When people first hear of children's liberation, they too often think of it as parents who withdraw from their children, treat them in a laissez-faire manner, abandon any regulations or restrictions. Some even fear the reversal of conditions that now prevail, where children would dominate their parents, become demanding and intimidating. Neither concept is intended, and, of course, neither is desirable.

Granting children rights does not mean abandoning all concern for children, nor negating all that adults have to offer them. It does not mean giving up the possibility of living with them in an orderly and civilized manner. The exercise of adult judgment, wisdom, influence, and persuasion should be enhanced, not impaired. As always, children will become socialized and acculturated mainly through the imitation of adult models.

Children's liberation does not mean a negation of all standards, just double standards. Behavior will still be guided by ethics, morals, beliefs, and laws. Just as adults must abide by regulations, standards, and schedules, so children must responsibly abide by these same rules. No parent, for example, should feel any more compelled to cater to the capricious whims of a child, than he would to any adult member of the family. After all, the objective of any liberation effort is to reduce the many ways in which people victimize each other. Parents are already overly victimized and need liberation in their own right. The fundamental rule should be no victimization, in either direction.

Some people fear that granting full rights of citizenship to children might make them into little adults and cheat them out of their childhood. Actually, the result would be just the opposite. Liberation would help give children back their childhood. Children are now so dominated and programmed that they are indeed being robbed of childhood. The pressures to achieve scholastically and the restrictions on children's mobility combine to make a childhood full of pleasure, invention, and exploration much too foreign to today's child.

When it comes right down to it, we don't know much about what childhood should be or, for that matter, what it is actually like now. Many of our ideas are probably more myth than reality. We prize certain qualities of childhood, seeking them for ourselves--emotional honesty, lack of inhibition, clear perceptions, and moments of great joy and abandon. But on the other hand, childhood isn't all that its more romantic publicists would have us believe. We have the idea that if a person isn't holding a job he must be enjoying himself. So we think of childhood as carefree, when it is actually a difficult, worrisome time for most children. We think of it as a gentle time, when actually childhood can be violent, coarse, and cruel. We think of it as a time of unfolding, of great curiosity and excitement, when actually most children are bored. We think of it as a time of innocence, when actually children can be quite knowing and seductive.

As unsettling as the prospect of children's liberation may be, it is helpful to remember that demands for children's rights are not meant to destroy family life, but to improve it; not meant to end education, but to vitalize it; not meant to rupture the relationship of adult to child, but to enhance it; not meant to undermine parents, but to liberate them; not meant to threaten society's survival capability, but to strengthen it.

One would think that children's liberation would be a movement to which everyone could belong because everyone either is or has been a child. Unfortunately, that is true only in a limited sense. For most of us childhood is almost completely forgotten. We might just as well not have been children for all we can remember about it. We can all remember incidents from our childhood, sometimes even into the very early years, though rarely before the age of five or six. But what we remember is so fragmentary and so clouded by romantic myths of childhood that it is almost impossible to bring any intelligent conjecture based upon these memories to bear on the current problems of childhood. [pp. 4-7]

Though Farson's important book on this subject was published over 35 years ago during a more liberal period when it was not unusual to see such books, it's quite clear we have not advanced to any degree in regards to our understanding of childhood and adolescence since then. And because the Right is now beginning to embrace youth liberation what with Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich's endorsement of Robert Epstein's books, the right-wing takeover of government and its continued dominance may no longer be a hindrance to the advancement of the youth liberation movement. As such, Richard Farson's book is just as relevant today as it was three and a half decades earlier, perhaps even more so, and I highly recommend everyone interested in learning more about youth liberation to seek it out.

Copies of Farson's out of print little gem can be obtained very affordably from, or cheap used copies from independent sellers as shown here on I have my fellow youth liberationist who posts on the political boards as Athos to thank for letting me know about this very important tome in the history of youth lib, and for also letting me know about

Item #12 Not only are young people, including prepubescent children, capable of great things when the situation calls for it, but some of them are truly heroes. There is no other word to describe the brave actions of a seven-year old boy named Carlos (last name not identified) from Norwalk, California who may have saved the lives of not only his parents but also his six-year old sister when armed attackers burst into his home unexpectedly on March 10, 2010. Grabbing his sister and bringing her into a locked bathroom with him as the assailants threatened his parents at gunpoint, Carlos dialed 911 on a cell phone and calmly and clearly explained to the dispatcher what was going on. Though the assailants broke into the bathroom, they fled the home when Carlos informed them that he had called 911. Sheriff deputies arrived at the boy's home within three minutes after he made the call.

Carlos has rightfully been hailed as a hero and spoke of the incident at a press conference later in the day. At this writing, the sheriff department of his county is still looking for the gunmen. This incident provides further hints as to what young people are capable of, including even true heroism. Carlos is in no way a prodigy (though he clearly is a bright young man). Carlos' mom, who taught him to dial 911 in case of an emergency, is also to be applauded for her validated belief that her kids were capable of handling even such a harrowing emergency situation as this. Kudos from me to both Carlos and his mom.

Captain Patrick Maxwell of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department was quoted as saying: "If not for the brave and educated actions of [Carlos], this might have ended tragically."

The news report of this incident can be watched here.

Now, in case any naysayer tries to argue that Carlos' act of competence and heroism was "an exception" or it makes him "precocious" or a "prodigy" of some sort, or dismiss what he did as "just one example," the officially recorded reports of many other young children, often as young as five years of age, and even as young as three years of age, have acted in the same manner as Carlos in regards to exercising good judgment and courage that literally saves the lives of family members during extreme emergency situations, including involving medical, criminal, or fire. Let's look at several examples so you don't think I expect you to just take my word for it:

5-year-old boy saves dad by calling 911. The boy in this incident, Jacen, was referred to as "not a typical 5-year-old" by one of the reporting newscasters, which may very well be an unintended ageist comment considering the many other examples I'm providing here (this is not to take anything away from Jacen for his great act of heroism, of course; what he did was very worthy of commendation in any case).

3-year-old calls 911 and saves his mom's life.

3-year-old calls 911, saves grandma. Note how Dr. Ashton mentions that Jaden remained calm and collected in a situation where many adults would have found it very difficult to do the same. He also just learned to dial 911 four days prior to the incident that enabled him to save his grandmother's life.

Girl's Gut Wrenching Call after Mother is Shot. This link should come with a warning: The story described in this news report is very difficult to listen to, but in it's own way, inspiring and relevant to youth liberation in regards to the competence and bravery often displayed by pre-pubescents in the most difficult situations imaginable. As this report shows, 8-year-old Tayonna managed to collect her wits in a situation where anyone could be expected to be overwhelmed by panic and horror long enough to enable the 911 dispatcher guide her into finding out the address of the house she was in, which was not her own (it belonged to her mother's boyfriend). Though her mother and her boyfriend soon died from their fatal wounds, this did not diminish the heroic thing Tayonna accomplished, and it did help the cops locate the adults' killer.

4-year-old calls 911, saves mom, sings address.

Armed 11-year-old girl defends home from 3 armed burglars. I think this report should come with a polite request for any of the more zealous anti-gun fanatics among any liberals and progressives reading this: Please put aside any temptation to have a knee-jerk reaction where you start shouting things like, "Why did this girl have access to a gun?", "What the hell was the matter with her mother to give her access to a gun?", "A gun shouldn't have been in that house in the first place!", etc., et al., and focus for just a moment on the point of this newscast: Alyssa was competent and responsible enough to only use her mother's rifle in the face of a true emergency involving legitimate defense of herself and her home. The often volatile issue of gun control is a matter that goes beyond the scope of this particular article, but its presence in the house certainly may well have saved Alyssa's life. The point is, Alyssa proved capable of dealing with this type of situation in a brave manner that required clarity and quickness of thought. This should also quell some of the concerns even certain youth liberationists have in regards to the competence and responsibility of youths under 18 in regards to using and even owning firearms. Look to this example that Alyssa provided for your answer.

An unforgettable 911 call from a 5-year-old girl named Savannah. This audio recording of Savannah's heroic 911 call to save her father's life during a medical emergency is particularly inspiring, as well as very sweet. She stays very calm and collected throughout as the dispatcher gives her instructions while awaiting the arrival of the firemen.

6-year-old calls 911 to help choking sister.

Child in Car Calls 911 on Drunk Mom. The boy who made several calls from a cell phone to describe his mom's errant behavior due to driving while inebriated certainly shows that there are ample situations where even pre-pubescents act more responsibly than adults in their midst. Yet, she is allowed to vote simply because she is over 18, and her son is prohibited from voting simply because he's under 18. This shows how a system of gerontocracy is not a meritocracy.

Kids yell at their drunk bus driver to STOP!. As this video recorded, it was a group of understandably scared kids who acted responsibly and saved the day, not the "responsible" adult in charge of them and their safety who made the foolish and incredibly irresponsible decision to drive a school bus while inebriated. I'm not saying all adults are incompetent, and I have no doubt that most bus drivers certainly take their responsibilities quite seriously. My point is, the assumption that adults are always going to be more responsible than people under 18 in any given situation is not only a form of prejudice with ample available evidence to refute such an ageist myth, but it can be detrimental to the safety of any kids put under the authority and care of many adults. Don't get me wrong, adults are indeed responsible and competent, but many are not. Conversely, many kids are not responsible or competent, of course, but many are, including when faced with situations of the utmost seriousness, as amply demonstrated in the several examples linked in this article.

7th grader hero saves bus driver and passengers. This video and accompanying news report is very inspiring, as despite its single-credit headline it actually shows more than one student on a school bus acting competently and displaying quick-thinking when a very dangerous and serious situation suddenly presented itself, as it involved both a medical emergency with the adult in charge of them, and a matter involving their direct physical safety. The actions of these kids saved both their lives and that of the bus driver. And one of them said he had what he read in a book about super-heroes (likely a comic book) to thank for the knowledge of what to do; go figure, and take that, Dr. Frederick Wertham! (If you don't know who Dr. Wertham was, just Google the name!)

7-year-old Tells 911 Dad Stabbed Mom.

"Amazing" 12-year-old Girl Shoots Intruder With a Glock During Home Invasion. This newscast should further put paid to the liberal anti-gun zealots who insist, a) Younger people cannot learn to use a firearm competently, responsibly, and only when truly appropriate, including the very serious situation of self-defense from dangerous individuals; and, b) Younger people under 18 are capable of thinking in clear-headed fashion under the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances, including when faced with a dangerous home invader. Not for nothing, but I'm glad that Kendra shot this individual rather than simply submit to whatever he may have done after breaking in. I also think it's notable and admirable that Kendra stated how in the aftermath, she was actually less shaken up than her mother was. Disclaimer: I am not a gun nut by any means, and I certainly do not recommend violence--with or without a weapon--except under extenuating circumstances; I believe self-defense from individuals like the man who threatened Kendra certainly count as such a circumstance.

911 call from kids trapped in fire. Note ahead of time that as scary as this call is to listen to, the two kids involved made it out of a serious life-threatening situation okay. Also note that despite being in an understandable state of panic and desperation as the house burned down around them, Matt and his younger brother Jordan had the wherewithal to call 911 and ultimately make a competent if risky decision that ultimately saved their lives.

All of these above newscasts prove that kids under 18, including several pre-pubescents as young as five and even three years of age, are capable of learning to make competent and responsible decisions under the most harrowing possible conditions, including those involving medical emergencies and life-threatening situations involving confrontations with dangerous criminals or being trapped inside a burning house. These several incidents prove that this admirable potential is far from limited to just a few stray prodigies or exceptions amongst the youth population.

Even younger children can learn very important things like dialing 911, making good judgement calls as to when it's appropriate to call this emergency service, and perhaps most importantly, recognizing a dangerous situation for what it is and acting appropriately to save the lives of others and/or themselves. These examples also demonstrates why we shouldn't limit youth liberation to young and older adolescents alone, and that even small children--whatever their limitations may be--still have much greater potential merits than they are currently given under our adult-dominated society where they have few legal rights to speak of. It's understandable, of course, that youth liberation would focus on adolescents first, and probably foremost for a while, as progress has to take place in steps; but it's more than reasonable not to limit our efforts to those 12 and over only.

Item #13 A truly extraordinary and enlightening graduation day speech was delivered by valedictorian Erica Goldson on June 25, 2010, where she eloquently critiqued the form of authoritarian, grade-and-test-based school system that students under the age of 18 have been forced to endure in a compulsory manner for the past 100+ years. Her critique is scathing but passionate and truthful, and it was clearly something that needed to be said by a student who is now looking back on the quality of the education she just finished receiving. Please keep in mind that Erica is a girl who is on the cusp of her 18th birthday, and she is speaking on behalf of younger people here. These are not the words of a stereotypically wise 80-year-old; these words of great wisdom and insight come from a "mere" teenager. How many 80-year-olds have made such wise observations of the school system or even the parasitic economic system which Erica notes the modern education system has been designed to serve the interests of? How many older people would typically deride Erica for her "youthful idealism" and insist that change is impossible without even bothering to try? It should also be noted that Erica does not consider herself more intelligent than her average schoolmates, and she makes this quite clear in her speech, just in case one of the many anti-youth pundits out there will try to claim that she is a "rare exception to the rule." Please keep in mind that this girl is not yet allowed to vote or to hold political office despite her obvious ability to do both more competently than the great majority of senior citizens in this country, an age group that is notorious for voting against its own interests and for being highly resistant to needed change (as the Tea Party movement is making even more clear; you don't see too many younger people spouting their right-wing nonsense, including their support for politicians who want to do away with Social Security), and who are notorious for making all sorts of very bad decisions when holding political office. Could this possibly indicate that people should be judged according to their individual merits rather than totally arbitrary factors such as chronological age? Hmmm...

Read Erica's speech here and prepare to question your ageist biases afterwards, as well as the "virtues" of the current education system and the economic conditions it was designed to serve.

Item #14 A truly excellent edition of the BBC audio program Analysis with the topic "What's wrong with child labour?" presents a very atypically open-minded assessment of the current child labor laws in the U.K. (similar throughout the Western world), and explains why they may not be the best thing in the world for younger people, courtesy of Fran Abrams. The radio program can be found here.

Item #15 Ten-year-old vocalist Jackie Evancho recently became the youngest artist to produce a Top 10 album when she scored an uber-impressive #2 spot on the Billboard 200 charts with her 2010 album O Holy Night. This was reported on this blog, which was posted on November 24, 2010. Though the blog entry describes Jackie as a "prodigy," one cannot help but wonder how many more youthful talents would be successful in this heavily competitive business if young people under the age of 18 were given the same opportunities to achieve as those who are legal adults.

Item #16 A very impressive accomplishment was made by a group of 25 prepubescent students between the ages of eight and ten from Blackawton Primary School in Britain, as reported in this article posted on December 21, 2010 on the Wired Science website, courtesy of author Lisa Grossman.

Yes, you heard me correctly: these were all prepubescents, and not adolescents, the latter of whom tend to get a disproportionate degree of attention from youth liberationists (even if always well deserved, since our society treats them little differently than prepubescents). This is one of those increasingly common moments when a sizable group of prepubescents get to shine, and in a manner that any bright adolescent may envy--and likely be inspired by. It provides a strong example of what kids as young as eight years of age can accomplish when given a notable degree of inspiration and respect from adults in their lives who encourage them to excel and achieve all that they are capable of achieving rather than harping on them to "just be kids" (translation: to just adhere to what our gerontocentric culture's conception of what a "child" or "kid" should or should not be doing or capable of doing solely on the basis of their chronological age and their "proper place" in society).

Specifically, these students got a major scientific paper approved and published in a respected peer-reviewed journal called Biology Letters. The study revolved around an interesting and potentially important study that effectively confirmed the suspicions of entomologists over the past decade that bumblebees use spatial and color judgments to determine beforehand which flowers are filled with the sugary nectar that they seek out in order to feed and provide for their hive. The experiment that resulted in this prestigious publication for people so young is described in good detail in the above linked article.

The project, which was left entirely to the students to work out, was arranged by neuroscientist Beau Lotto (based on a lecture he gave at the school and class where his son, Misha, is a student) and Dave Strudwick, the head teacher at Blackawton Primary School. Both of these men are to be commended for their tremendous and highly uncharacteristic level of respect for these young students.

A few select excerpts from the article are in order here:

"Their finding is 'novel, but not earth-shattering,' Lotto said. Several independent reviewers 'came back saying this is all sound,' he added. 'This is a unique finding, and the methods are as they should be.'"

Um, Dr. Lotto, of course this finding isn't earth-shattering. The confirmation of life existing on other planets, the discovery of a living species of dinosaur in the Lakoula Swamp region of Africa, or the discovery of how to regenerate missing limbs on humans would be earth-shattering. But this discovery is more than merely "novel," I would argue. It's not going to change the world or set the world of entomology on fire, granted, but it's still highly impressive for a group of such young people without a large degree of formal scientific training to accomplish considering the heavy limitations our society places on what youths even in their mid-teens, let alone prepubescents, are allowed to do. Their methodology and findings were sound, they got published in a peer-reviewed journal that would never allow junk in its pages, and it can be said they made history by making a major accomplishment for the international youth community.

Another important excerpt from the article:

“'The data as they presented it is compelling,' said psychologist Laurence Maloney of NYU, who wrote a commentary on the paper. 'It’s a very impressive performance by a group of students of that age. I wouldn’t have thought they could do it.'”

And I'm sure that a mere 150 years ago, the scientific and academic communities of the time wouldn't have thought that women or black men could do it, either.

But was getting their work recognized and published easy due to their age group? Well, what do you think? Read this next excerpt to find out exactly what you were thinking:

"Strudwick and Lotto faced some challenges getting public recognition for their students’ work. They initially tried to get outside funding for the project, but were rejected.

“'One of the referees said the kids couldn’t do it. The other said it wasn’t high enough cost-to-benefit ratio,' Lotto said. 'That just added fuel to fire.'”

How many other kids in the same age group or older could accomplish equally impressive feats if only they were respected enough to grant them funding or support from the adults that presently have full control over society and its material and financial resources? In fact, how many kids in this age group have already done equally--or more--impressive things only to face a refusal by any adult agency to publicly recognize their work due to ageist bigotry? How many good and potentially revolutionary inventions or studies conducted by youths remain languishing in creative development hell because no institution will give these young people any funding to make their idea a reality simply due to ageist bigotry? Keep in mind that none of the kids who provided science with this accomplishment are considered prodigies, but simply attend a school that has unusually respectful and effective educators and programs. According to a quote by one of the students to be found in the article (see below), these educators discovered an interesting and completely obvious way of motivating and inspiring these 25 students to achieve this study: they actually adopted a teaching methodology that made studying science fun. Just imagine what kids could accomplish and would accomplish even under the present day rules if the majority of schools in the world adopted such a no-brainer methodology and made education and learning fun.

Note the following excerpt:

"Strudwick says the project has completely changed the way Blackawton Primary School approaches science education, and that the students have a much more positive view of science now than three years ago. The students’ scores on Britain’s national science exams are well above average, too.

"Misha Lotto, now 10, says his view of science changed thanks to the bees.

“'I thought science was just like math, really boring,' he said. 'But now I see that it’s actually quite fun. When you’re curious, you can just make up your own experiment, so you can answer the question.'”

So learning can actually be fun? Students actually perform better and develop a greater passion for learning--even to the point of accomplishing exceptional things--when education is made fun? Hmmm, what a radical concept! Who would have thought?

Many kudos to the science students at Blackawton Primary School for doing their community proud and doing the growing number of us youth liberationists who support the establishment of their civil rights proud. You just showed the world that even "average" youths in the prepubescent age group have immense potential that could be regularly realized in a society that respected you as full human beings and with an educational system that made learning fun and exciting rather than appearing to be drudgery and "just work."

Finally, please note this article by PZ Myers for the Pharyngula science blog that makes clear the 'stunning' (to our gerontocentric society, at least) discovery that eight-to-ten year old kids can make such an impressive accomplishment, which appears to be an even more amazing revelation to our culture than what the study revealed about the spatial and color discernment capabilities of the bees (to those of us who ignore the regular accomplishments of youths throughout history and prior to their complete civil disempowerment and the birth of the modern conception of the "child" by the mid-to-late 19th century, that is).

One important excerpt from Myers' above linked article deserves to be presented here for what it says not only about the kids, but also our present day societal attitudes towards them:

"Another charming part of this story is that a gang of grade school kids have done something grown-up creationists haven't: they've done good science and gotten it published."

As one of my fellow youth liberationists, Sam Ramus, noted on one of the online youth lib-friendly boards when this story was mentioned there: "Even for college students it would be impressive. Kind of puts the lie to the basic beliefs of our educational system."

Item #17 No sooner does 2011 arrive than another impressive scientific accomplishment is made by a "mere child" of ten. Ten-year-old Canadian amateur astronomer Kathryn Gray became the youngest person on record to discover a new supernova, as described in this article by BBC News US & Canada, posted on January 4, 2011. Kathyrn's father Paul, who is also an amateur astronomer, helped his adroit daughter confirm her discovery, and the major stellar event has been officially recorded by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC).

A notable quote from the article: "'It's fantastic that someone so young would be passionate about astronomy. What an incredible discovery. We're all very excited,' said Deborah Thompson of RASC."

It's fantastic that someone as young as Kathryn could be so passionate about some aspect of the sciences? Hmmm, I recall having a keen interest in the sciences, including astronomy, from a very young age, though I quite clearly lacked the sheer talent of Kathryn (and, to be totally fair to myself, I never owned a telescope). Kathryn's dad should be commended for piquing and nurturing his daughter's interest in astronomy, especially since she made an amazing discovery that he didn't, and he should be further commended for letting Kathryn take the credit she deserved instead of claiming it for himself. Is it really that unusual for young people to have such a strong interest in science? How many more youths as young as Kathryn are capable of making such important discoveries if only they were given as many opportunities to do so as adults? If such was the case, then perhaps we wouldn't find such impressive discoveries like this (and the one described above in Item #16) so fantastic and out of the ordinary.

Item #18 It would appear that seven years after the high school students of Boulder High School in Boulder, Colorado impressed the hell out of Michael Moore by refusing to leave their school building for 24 hours to protest the rigged "re-election" of George W. Bush in 2004, he is now impressed anew in 2011--this time by the students of high schools throughout the state of Wisconsin. To quote Moore himself via this note of his posted on February 18, 2011 in regards to the high school students of Madison doing their parts to protest and occupy the State Capitol Building to protest their right-wing governor's anti-union attacks: "How inspired are you by the thousands of students from Wisconsin high schools who began walking out of class four days ago and have now occupied the State Capitol building and its grounds in Madison, demanding that the governor stop his assault on teachers and other government workers? I have to say it's one of the most exciting things I've seen in years.

"We are, right now, living in an amazing moment of history. And this moment has happened because the youth around the world have decided they've had enough. Young people are in revolt -- and it's about time."

Moore went on to say: "You, the students and young adults, from Cairo, Egypt to Madison, Wisconsin, are now rising up, taking to the streets, organizing, protesting and refusing to move until your voices are heard. Effing amazing!! It has scared the pants off those in power, the adults who were so convinced they had done a heckuva job trying to dumb you down and distract you with useless nonsense so that you'd end up feeling powerless, just another cog in the wheel, another brick in the wall. You've been fed a lot of propaganda about 'how the system works' and so many lies about what took place in history that I'm amazed you've been able to sort through all the bs and see the truth for what it is. This was all done in the hopes you would just keep your mouths shut, get in line and follow orders. And don't rock the boat. Because if you do, you could end up without a good job! You could end up looking like a freak! You've been told politics isn't cool and that one person really can't make a difference.

"And for some beautiful, unknown reason, you've refused to listen. Maybe it's because you've figured out that we adults are about to hand you a very empty and increasingly miserable world, with its melting polar ice caps, its low-paying jobs, its incessant war machine, and its plan to put you in permanent debt at age 18 with the racket known as college loans."

This most certainly does mirror Moore's rightfully congratulatory essay from 2004 entitled, "The Kids Are Alright" (see Sources below for the URL to this essay). And Moore is now so impressed by this repeat performance of youth competency and activism, that he made this announcement in the same article:

Although I've long since left your age group, I've been so inspired by recent events that I'd like to do my bit and lend a hand. I've decided to turn over a part of my website to high school students so they -- you -- can have the opportunity to get the word out to millions more people. For a long time I've wondered, how come we don't hear the true voices of teenagers in our mainstream media? Why is your voice any less valid than an adult's?

In high schools all across America, students have great ideas to make things better or to question what is going on -- and often these thoughts and opinions are ignored or silenced. How often in school is the will of the student body ignored? How many students today will try to speak out, to stand up for something important, to simply try to right a wrong -- and will be swiftly shut down by those in authority, or by other students themselves?

I've seen students over the years attempt to participate in the democratic process only to be told that high schools aren't democracies and that they have no rights (even though the Supreme Court has said that a student doesn't give up his or her rights "when they enter the schoolhouse door").

It's always amazed me how adults preach to young people about what a great "democracy" we have, but when students seek to be part of it, they are reminded that they are not full citizens yet and must behave somehow as indentured servants. Is it any wonder then why some students, when they become adults, don't feel like participating in our political system -- because they've been taught by example for the past 12 years that they have no say in the decisions that affect them?

We like to say that we have this great "free press," and yet how free are high school newspapers? How free are you to write or blog about what you want? I've been sent stories from teenagers that they couldn't get published at school. Why not? Why must we silence or keep out of sight the voice of our teenagers?

It's not that way in other countries. The voting age in places like Austria, Brazil or Nicaragua is 16. In France, students can shut down the country by simply walking out of school and taking to the streets.

But here in the U.S. you're told to obey and to basically butt out and let the adults run the show.

Let's change that! I'm starting this site, "HIGH SCHOOL NEWSPAPER." Here you will be able to write what you want and I will publish it. I will also post those articles that you've tried to get published at your school but were turned down. On this site you will have freedom and an open forum and a chance to have your voice heard by millions.

Is it possible that Moore will take the next logical step and become an official, unabashed youth liberationist and begin supporting the important work of orgs like NYRA? Would Moore be willing to support a proposition to immediately lower the voting age to 14, and begin supporting the nationwide--and then worldwide--implementation of the democratic process throughout all high schools a la the Sudbury model? And how about allowing adolescents to enter the political process directly? My educated guess is: quite possibly! This is a major show of respect for high school students by Moore, and a huge step in the right direction for establishing youth rights by giving them a voice that is seriously listened to. Let's cross our fingers and hope the next step is for Moore to expand the parameters of this new section of his site to accommodate the thoughts and music of middle school students, who do indeed have a lot to say and contribute in these areas, as they regularly make clear on YouTube. So, a note from me to all high school students in the world: keep up the good work! You once again proved our culture's common gerontocentric biases against younger people and their capabilities wrong! And, a note from me to all middle school students and their equivalents in the world: it's time for a bunch of you to go out there and do something highly constructive and impressive to prove your own potential and capabilities in order to gain Moore's attention and make him realize that he needs to expand his site's new section to include your voices, too. You also deserve the civil rights of full citizenship that Moore mentioned in the above excerpt from his article, as do people of all age groups.

Note also that these students went to bat for the teachers who all-too often bully them and show them a great degree of disrespect with a "remember who is boss here!" and the oft-heard "school [i.e., learning] is not supposed to be fun!" attitude. Is it too much to hope that these teachers will realize that these students deserve their respect as much as the reverse, and therefore work towards supporting their civil rights, and for instituting the democratization of the public school system in the future? One can only hope, but if the parents can do it, then so can the teachers.

Speaking on behalf of the youth liberation movement to the high school students of Wisconsin and those battling for freedom in the Middle East: I am very proud--and inspired--by all of you. And to give credit where it's due, I am also very proud of the parents of these students in Wisconsin for showing up at the State Capitol to support their kids; they provided proof that the institution of parenthood is not the inevitable enemy of the youth lib movement, and that parents and their children can indeed live in a world of mutual respect and support.

Item #19 Another progressive step forward for youths under 18 of the world has recently been announced. As explicated in this article from BBC News, the city government of Bremen, Germany, has done something that every state in America would consider overly progressive (read: too "radical") in the present anti-youth climate: they lowered the voting age to 16 in an attempt to get younger people interested in politics. This is in contrast to the other 15 states of Germany, where currently one must be the much vaunted age of 18 in order to vote. Nevertheless, Germany has become the second nation in the European Union--the other being Austria--to grant 16-year-olds the right to vote. Of course, as one may expect, some have protested in response, while citing various statistics to back up the protests that need to be put in their proper perspective, as this excerpt from the article makes clear: "The BBC's Stephen Evans, in Berlin, says studies indicate that 16-year-olds are less likely to take the trouble [to vote] than older people - and one study also seems to show that their level of ignorance about politics is much greater than 18-year-olds."

First of all, why should 16-year-olds en masse be interested in politics when people under 18 are conditioned from the time of their birth to acquiesce to "grown-ups" running the world, and are frequently hit with demeaning comments and attitudes as to their inherent level of competence and potential? With that being the case, is it any real surprise that so many younger people who are old enough to vote likewise lack an interest in voting, thus leaving the world in the sole hands of older people who are more often than not resistant to needed change and overly narrow of mind despite their oft-boasted levels of experience? And secondly, in regards to a study being done that "seems to show" that 16-year-olds have a much greater degree of ignorance in politics than 18-year-olds, I would certainly like to see the specific group of 16-year-olds who participated in the study for that group, and also understand how a two year gap in age could make such a significant difference when many other studies have been done that make it clear that there is no significant difference between the competency levels of people within that two year age frame. Also, the level of knowledge of politics that any individual may have is irrelevant, because there is more than enough evidence that numerous adults--including many older adults, as discussed with evidence in previous sections of this essay--have very little interest in, or knowledge of, politics, yet are still allowed to vote simply because they are above the legal age of majority. And let us not forget the numerous amounts of opportunities that younger people have with educating themselves about all aspects of politics courtesy of the Internet and its immense political blogosphere base.

However, as another excerpt from the article makes clear, in a rare case of honesty about these matters, there is likely another reason why politicians across the world do not want people under 18 voting. This is a reason that has nothing to do with knowledge or competence, and everything to do with the fear of the propensity for youths to stand behind change when warranted, thus threatening the continued power of the present status quo: "[Evans] adds that studies also indicate that 16-year-olds tend towards supporting opposition parties of protest - and that perhaps for this reason, the governing Christian Democrats are less in favour of lower voting ages than are opposition parties."

Of course, why should the two political parties who best support the corporate interests with the major stake in continuing the current status quo want to take the risk of a third, alternative political party--perhaps one genuinely representing progressive change--gaining more power and influence as the result of younger people, who are typically less resistant to change than older people, gaining the vote? This is perhaps the crux of the problem that our ageist world order makes for younger people, and quite likely the main reason it fears giving them power, and why it indoctrinates all of us, including younger people themselves, with heavy gerontocentric biases and disparaging attitudes towards younger people.

Nevertheless, the Bremen, Germany decree is a major progressive step in the right direction, and a strong indication that the future emancipation of the youth community is slowly but surely moving forward.

Item #20 It should be duly noted that Dr. Robert Epstein, noted in above items, is certainly not the only member of the mental health profession who has conducted stringent research that refutes the still-common belief that adolescents are mentally and intellectually inferior to adults due to a "faulty teen brain" that allegedly has yet to reach "full development." Educational psychologist David Moshman likewise fully debunks such ageist nonsense in his book, Adolescent Rationality and Development, now in a third edition with important supplementary information, and available in e-book format for Kindle.

To get a good indication of Moshman's reasoning you should read his short article on his blog entitled, "The Teenage Brain: Debunking the 5 Biggest Myths."

One quick note to readers: Moshman's comments about adults being truly "more mature" than children (with the implication that this is universally so) is to be expected at this time, and should not be taken as an excuse to avoid reading his work for all the progressive, well-researched anecdotes he has for specifically adolescents. Progressive change has to occur in steps, and children will get their change once adolescents eventually achieve their emancipation, prove themselves many times over, and therefore cause many people to re-think their opinions on this subject. Even Dr. Epstein stated in his book that in his opinion, compared to adolescents, children "do not measure up."

However, note these observations Epstein himself made on Page 4 of his 2007 interview by The Court Report, and posted on "I used to get my kids up in the morning and serve them breakfast, pack their lunches, and so on. Now, they get me up in the morning; they take turns on alternate days. They make their own breakfast, and now my 6-year-old tells me she wants to start packing their lunches. The message I give to them every single day is, 'You can do it. I’ll help you, I’ll show you how. Now show me what you can do.' My 8-year-old now helps me do audio editing for my radio show. He loves it, and he’s faster at it than I am!" [Source:]

The above likely explains why Epstein has declared the position that if a variation of the Epstein-Dumas test for adulthood becomes a standard competency determinant for youths seeking emancipation, that there should be no lower age limit for young people who want to take the test to determine their level of individual competence. We must also keep in mind that children as young as six years of age have not only competently participated in managing the rules and curricula of the democratic Sudbury schools along with the adolescent students and adult employees, and the once prominent apprenticeship system where children around that young thrived successfully, it's likely that the way we currently treat children in our society has an adverse affect on the way they act and what they routinely accomplish now compared to past eras in a manner similar to that of adolescents. Although there is no doubt that children need more guidance than adolescents do from adults, and their emotional level will likely be different and more emotionally "needy" from that of adolescents in many ways, they still likely have a chance to accomplish much more than they currently do on a regular basis if our home and educational system gave them the opportunities and trust that Epstein described in the above excerpt.

The same cannot, of course, be said for toddlers and infants, but that still wouldn't justify either parents or a state for treating them as property rather than as developing human beings who need to be taught to become independent of adults at as early an age each are individually possible of.

One step at a time must be allotted to all progress, people, and those like Epstein and Moshman deserve to be praised for what their research has provided us with.


ASFAR's position paper on Voting Age: [down as of 8/2/14]

ASFAR's position paper on Educational Freedom: [down as of 8/2/14]

Sven Bonnichsen's refutation of common attacks on youth lib (you will have to scroll down a bit to find them after reaching the page):

Oblivion website section featuring Adele Carpenter's article on youth lib: [currently down]

Article on the anarchist website Slingshot about youth lib by An-ok Ta Chai:

Question/answer oriented article on youth liberationist by parent, writer, and progressive social activist Cynthia Peters for Znet:

Article about the importance of youths under 18 achieving their voting rights by youth liberationist Ben O'Meary on NYRA's website (it's a pdf document that will need to be downloaded to be read): do=file&id=61 [currently down; NYRA promises it will be back up as a download soon, so stay tuned!]

Here is the URL to the online article by David Harrison for the U.K.'s Telegraph newspaper about novelist Hilary Mantel's statements in defense of young teen parenthood:

Below is the URL to an article detailing 16-year-old sailor Jessica Watson's amazing feat:

Below is the URL to an article detailing 16-year-old Abby Sunderland's amazing attempt to be the youngest person to sail across the globe alone:

Below is the URL to an article detailing 14-year-old sailor Laura Dekker's adventures and what she is attempting to achieve (update: and what she ultimately did achieve!):

The following URL leads to an article that was posted on February 8, 2010 about both Jessica Watson and Abby Sunderland's attempts to travel around the globe alone. Also mentioned in this article is Laura Dekker and another young sailor who is attempting to circumnavigate the globe on his own, 17-year-old Ryan Langley:

The next URL leads to the CW56 National News article (with accompanying video) describing how seven-year old Carlos bravely dialed 911 and quite possibly saved the lives of his parents and younger sister when two armed assailants burst into his home on March 10, 2010:

Note #1: Info about Robert Epstein's 2010 book TEEN 2.0 can be found by going to and entering either the title of the book or Robert Epstein's name in's search engine. The favorable quotes by Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, which were once on the Amazon entry for this book, can still be found as quotes featured in the book itself. A follow-up to Epstein's extremely groundbreaking 2007 tome The Case Against Adolescence, this tome was released on April 14th, 2010.

Note #2: For info on Brett McClafferty's important book The Age of Politics, and/or to purchase a copy of the book, go to and enter the title of the book or Brett McClafferty's name in the site's search engine.

Important Links To Youth Liberation Resources And Information

This is the URL to the home page of the National Youth Rights Association (NYRA):

This is the URL to the home page of Americans for a Society Free from Age Restrictions (ASFAR): [website currently down, but you can access their Facebook page here in the meantime:]

The following URL leads to the home page of Mike Males, one of America's foremost youth liberationists and an author of a few books and numerous articles on the topic, the latter of which often saw print in the zine Youth Today, as well as other publications. Males' home page contains links to his many articles over the years, which are filled with a huge amount of useful and inspirational info for youth liberationists of all ages. His articles often center upon good refutations of common myths about adolescents, including those which attempt to paint younger people as having inherently faulty brains that make them naturally prone to poor decision-making and acts of violence, as well as very important articles explaining the many ways that adult progressives and liberals in American society violate their own most cherished principles--which are supposed to include open-mindedness about all subjects in the social sciences--when it comes to any issue relevant to young people under 18.
[Curiously, it should be noted that the link to Males' article from over a decade ago which tried to blame the bulk of teen girl pregnancies on older teens and adult men is now inactive. The latter claim is a common myth that Males should have known better than to contribute to, an error which he later - to his credit - told pro-youth journalist Judith Levine that he regretted making after he saw all the new restrictions that were placed upon teens in Males' home state of California partially as a result of his article; Males' regretful statement was recorded in a footnote seen in the back of Levine's amazing book Harmful to Minors. Good for Males for killing that link (assuming, of course, that it's not just a huge coincidence that this appears to be practically the only link on his home page that is broken). All prolific writers, including the best of them, make a few errors now and then, and this one should not be used to cast aspersions on the huge number of other articles Males has composed over the years that didn't contain any inaccuracies.]
The URL to Mike Males' home page is here:

URL to the main page of, a truly awesome site featuring numerous amazing, informative, and thoughtful posts and articles by Sven Bonnichsen, one of the greatest contemporary youth liberationists, bar none:

The following URL leads to a section of the RevLeft forum--which is dedicated discussions among individuals who consider themselves on the 'Far Left' of the political spectrum (e.g., anarchists and socialists)--that features a lengthy and extremely informative discussion on youth liberation started by a very knowledgeable anarchist youth liberationist who posts there under the screen name Agnapostate. The discussion thread is chock full of citations and links to important books on youth liberation that are relatively obscure but which contain very important arguments in favor of youth lib, and on the history of childhood and the recent concept of adolescence throughout history:

URL for Youth Rights Network's archive of many of the most important articles--including links to all the published volumes--of ASFAR's terrific and extremely informative online zine Youth Truth, which is on hiatus as of this writing: [currently down]

This URL leads to a page containing a downloadable pdf version of Dr. Robert Epstein's extremely important and seminal article, "The Myth of the Teen Brain," which was originally published in an issue of the prestigious mag Scientific American Mind, and where Dr. Epstein first provided good scientific evidence to refute the common societal belief that adolescents have "faulty" and "underdeveloped" brains that make them inherently pre-disposed to making poor decisions and to allegedly display a general level of incompetence:

URL to an online interview with Dr. Robert Epstein regarding his groundbreaking article "The Myth of the Teen Brain" that appeared in an issue of the prestigious Scientific American Mind and his equally groundbreaking first book on this topic, The Case Against Adolescence (since updated with a new volume entitled Teen 2.0), which greatly expanded on the ideas he presented in the article:

The following URL links to an important online article from well known progressive author and filmmaker Michael Moore entitled "The Kids Are Alright," where Moore provides strong evidence--based on the results surrounding the 2004 presidential election--that the popular belief in our ageist culture that older people are inherently better decision-makers than younger people and most often have a much greater knowledge of politics than younger people do--is debunked once and for all. Though Moore gives an admirable congratulatory nod to the younger people who were of legal age to vote in the election (which they certainly deserved), he also makes a point to mention what the high school kids of Boulder High in Boulder, Colorado did that year to protest Bush's re-election since they weren't legally allowed to vote. Moore's latter acknowledgement (and youth liberationists all over the world thank him for mentioning it in his article) makes it clear that one does not need to be at least 18 to make intelligent political decisions at the polls:

URL to one of the most important articles ever written for ASFAR's terrific online zine Youth Truth, "'Saving' the Lost Kids" by youth liberationist extraordinaire Lisa Freeman circa 2001, where she makes it very clear that the type of "child advocacy" practiced by the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children, founded by John Walsh, is no friend to the youth rights movement, and that 'child advocates' of Walsh's stripe are as far from authentic youth liberationists as the color white is from the color black: [currently down]

The following is a URL to another of the most important articles to ever appear on ASFAR's great online zine Youth Truth that is also circa 2001, and was penned by one of America's greatest contemporary youth liberationists, Alex Koroknay-Palicz, before he left ASFAR to become president of NYRA. The article is entitled "Scapegoating of Youth," and as the title suggests, Alex explains in this article how the media spreads misinformation about young people that creates a highly negative image of the youth community in the eyes of our culture, thus seemingly justifying all the laws and restrictions placed upon youths under 18 which keep them in their present status of civil and legal disempowerment: [currently down]

URL to a 2008 article entitled "The Trouble With Child Labor Laws" by author Jeffery A Tucker, which greatly questions the "wisdom" of the present day child labor laws and explores a bit of their history, why they are misguided rather than helpful towards young people, and why they should be amended accordingly. This very thoughtful article is extremely important for youth liberationists to read, as the right to work and achieve a degree of economic independence is one of the foremost rights that youth liberationists are fighting to achieve for the under 18 youth community today:

The following is a URL to a section of the official website of the Odysseus Group, an org devoted to fundamental reform of the education system in America, which features all the chapters of John Taylor Gatto's great and extremely important book The Underground History of American Education. The latter book (which can be read free here online) provides a thorough explanation of the original purpose of compulsory schooling for minors as we know it today during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, along with the economic factors which played a heavy role in the infantalization of younger people that is so familiar to everyone who grew up at any point during the 20th century up to the present time of the early 21st century:

Below is a URL to an article detailing the amazing feats of other young sailors under 18, specifically Zac Sunderland (USA) and Mike Perham (UK), such as their becoming the youngest sailors to make great nautical accomplishments, as well as their plans to break Australian David Dicks' 1996 record of being the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe while sailing solo, which Dicks did at age 18.

[In the article, Perham mentions that he thought fellow record-breaker Jessica Watson was "much more mature" than most young people her age (she was 15 when he met her), but considering the society he was raised in, it's not surprising that he would make such a comment. Evidence of maturity in young people is often seen as precocity rather than as part of their natural potential. It should be noted that a desire for adventure is often seen as a "young" trait, so it can be argued that if Jessica was more "mature" for her age, her sense of adventure and her strong belief in her ability to do something so amazing would be considerably less pronounced (which is why young people are often derided by older people for their "idealism" in today's society)].
The URL is here: [currently down]

URL for article detailing Laura Dekker's extraordinary year-long solo expedition circumnavigating the globe, begun when she was 15 and ending when she was 16 (she originally intended to start the journey at age 14, which the Dutch government contravened by forcing her to go on the run for several months--but I doubt she would have failed to do at 14 what she succeeded in doing at 15):

Below is a URL to a January, 2010 article in the online edition of The Mount Airy News by reporter Meghann Evans about an 18-year-old, Jonathan Smith, who announced that he would be running for the county commissioner's office in his home county of Surry. This short article makes it clear that more young people have a desire to enter politics. Smith is a Republican and was actively involved in John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign when he was under 18, which lends further hope that in the future the youth liberation movement will be considered a bipartisan issue and not viewed as a strictly "right" or "left" principle or platform position, but will be embraced by all politically active people who have an even moderate sense of social justice: [currently down]

Here is a URL to the terrific critique of the modern day education system courtesy of valedictorian Erica Goldson at her graduation ceremony on June 25, 2010:

Here is the URL to Fran Abrams' great audio analysis of modern child labour laws in her native Britain:

Here is the URL to a video of ten-year-old singer Jackie Evancho singing the titular song of her amazingly successful album, achieving the #2 spot on the Billboard 200 charts in November of 2010 with her album O Holy Night, therefore becoming the youngest artist to score a Top 10 record to date:;_ylc=X1MDMjE0MjQ3ODk0OARfcgMyBGZyA3lmcC10LTQwNARmcjIDc2EtZ3AEZ3ByaWQDBG5fZ3BzAzEwBG9yaWdpbgN3d3cueWFob28uY29tBHBvcwMxMARwcXN0cgMEcXVlcnkDamFja2llIGV2YW5jaG8ncyBvIGhvbHkgbmlnaHQEc2FjAzEEc2FvAzE-?p=jackie%20evancho%27s%20o%20holy%20night&type=2button&fr=yfp-t-404

Below we have the URL to the article explicating the impressive accomplishment for the world of science made by a group of 25 eight-to-ten-year-old students from Blackawton Primary School in Britain:

And here is the URL for another article describing the amazing accomplishment of the above mentioned students:

Here we have the URL for the article detailing the uber-impressive accomplishment of ten-year-old Kathryn Gray, an amateur Canadian astronomer who became the youngest person to discover a new supernova:

Here is the URL of an article praising the high school students in Madison, Wisconsin for their major part in the working class protest and occupation of the State Capitol building in February, 2011 to protest government attacks on teachers' pay and the right of workers to unionize:

Below is the URL for the May 22, 2011 article from BBC News detailing the decree from the government of Bremen, Germany, that establishes the right of 16-year-olds to vote:

Here is the URL for David Moshman's blog entry "The Teenage Brain: Debunking the 5 Biggest Myths":