Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Economic Woes Mean Youth Marginalization

Research into social perceptions of youth has shown us that in times of war, youth are depicted as "mature, responsible, and competent," but during times of economic hardship, the same group are depicted as "immature, unstable, undereducated." Obviously you can see why. When there's fewer jobs, adults want to make the playing field look more uneven. When there's a war that needs to be fought, they want everyone to get behind sending out the fresh, young, front lines (Enright, Levy, Harris, & Lapsley, 1987).

Seriously, how many criminal "sexting" cases have to make headlines these days before we see this pattern of marginalization happening right before our eyes?

This has been posted on the Age of Reason blog, concerning the increasing criminalization of youth and their "conspicuous absence of concern for youth" during this economic crisis.

A good read.

Increasingly, children seem to have no standing in the public sphere as citizens and as such are denied any sense of entitlement and agency. Children have fewer rights than almost any other group, and fewer institutions protecting these rights. Consequently, their voices and needs are almost completely absent from the debates, policies and legislative practices that are constructed in terms of their needs. This is not to suggest that adults do not care about youth, but most of those concerns are framed within the realm of the private sphere of the family and can be seen most clearly in the moral panics mobilized around drugs, truancy and kids killing each other.


As the protocols of governance become indistinguishable from military operations and crime-control missions, youth are more and more losing the protections, rights, security or compassion they deserve in a viable democracy. The model of policing that now governs all kinds of social behaviors constructs a narrow range of meaning through which young people define themselves. Moreover, the rhetoric and practice of policing, surveillance and punishment have little to do with the project of social investment and a great deal to do with increasing powerful modes of regulation, pacification and control - together comprising a “youth control complex” whose prominence in American society points to a state of affairs in which democracy has lost its claim and the claiming of democracy goes unheard.

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