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The Civil Rights of Youth

As some of you may have deduced from the first few entries on this site’s Links page, I am an advocate for the civil rights of the young. Not just teenagers, but all “underage” persons alike.

The first question most people have is what in the world I’d have to fight for. Children are already protected very well by the government. In fact, they’re protected better than adults! That’s not exactly true. While there may be many public and private institutions devoted to the protection of children, their idea of “protection” is a joke. Tell me, does the NAACP protect black people by restricting their rights more and more each day? The so-called “Child Advocacy” groups have a funny idea of protection.

No, I’m talking about fighting for the civil rights of the young. What’s the fight about, you ask? Simple, the young don’t have any civil rights! Of all the various forms of discrimination that our society tries to eliminate, it seems that the vast majority of people have completely over-looked the most basic (and often most horrific) form of discrimination: Ageism. Ageism is usually defined as transgressions against the elderly. That’s ironic, I think, that even the definition of ageism excludes the young.

Ageist discrimination is commonly practiced and accepted by society. No one questions it and most people don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. This comes from the idea that laws must be put in place to “protect” the young from all the evil things in the adult world. I’ll get into why that’s total bullshit a bit later.

For now, I’d like to give you an idea of the kinds of changes we’d like to see take effect and give an explanation of each. To fully illustrate my points, I’m going to go over some of the goals held by most Youth Rights organizations one-by-one. Let’s begin:

The Right to Vote
If anyone told a black man that he couldn’t vote because of his skin color, there’d be a riot. If you told a woman that she couldn’t vote because of her gender, there’d be lawsuits out the ass. Why is it then that it’s ok to tell someone that they can’t vote because of their age? Children have every right to know about and participate in the formation of their country’s government. It IS their country too, after all. Granted, most children probably wouldn’t care about politics, but what about those that do? If a 10 year old understands the election process enough to actually want to take part in it, who the fuck are you to deny him that? He has every right to take an active part in the world he will one day inherit.

Freedom of Speech/Expression
How would you like to see a movie rating system based on skin color or gender? “This movie is not appropriate for white people” could be stamped onto Boys ‘n The Hood, couldn’t it? Nothing wrong with that? Of course there’s something wrong with that! How dare someone decide that white people shouldn’t see a movie because it’s “too black!” So how is it that we blindly tolerate the current MPAA ratings which are based on nothing more than age? So, it’s ok to tell young people that they shouldn’t see a movie because it’s “too adult?” My point here is that the young should have access to any and all public materials (including music, movies, TV shows, books, magazines, etc). Restricting the access to certain forms of expression based on nothing more than age is bigotry, plain and simple. It is a flagrant violation of the right to Free Expression!

Freedom from Violence
If you were to hit another adult, you’d most likely find yourself sitting in a prison cell somewhere, but if you hit your child (i.e. “corporal punishment”) it’s suddenly ok and everyone shouts about how their “right” to raise their kids however they choose. Hey, in case you forgot, dumbass, you do NOT have the right to inflict violence on another human being! Sadly, that right does not extend to children. Saying that corporal punishment is ok is exactly the same as saying that it’s ok to beat your children, but it has to be done in a certain way. If I walked up to another adult and even popped his/her hand, I could be sued for assault, yet it’s ok for me to take a belt to my child’s ass??? What the fuck?!

The Right to a Fair Trial
The Constitution grants every American the right to a trial by his or her peers. Why is it then that children these days are being put on trial by a group of adults? These are NOT their peers! Oh, but of course, children are too stupid to act as jurors, right? Fucking idiot! Children should be granted the right to a FAIR trial by their peers (and if children were allowed to vote, it would be much easier to find such a jury!). Furthermore, children should have the right to legal representation – a lawyer – who acts in the best interest of their client NOT in the best interests of the clients parents! And the final point on this is that until the rights of children equal adults, how can you subject them to adult punishments? Imprisonment of 16 and 17 year olds in “adult” prisons and sometimes even the death penalty for kids as young as 12! Am I the only one who finds it odd that children are said to be “incapable” of knowing or understanding anything only until they’ve broken the law? Then, suddenly, they understand perfectly well and are susceptible to the same punishments as adults.

The Right to Work I was once the manager of a ballfield concession stand. I had a co-manager, but she was hardly ever around. Instead, there was one little girl (age 8, if I recall correctly) who always came in and volunteered to help out. It didn’t take long before I considered that girl my co-manager! She was far better at the job than the other adult that had been placed with me. At 8, that child was fully capable of working a job behind a cash register or as a waitress or any other field of service, yet if she’d ever applied for such a job, she’d have been told that she was too young to even apply, regardless of the fact that she’d have done a helluva lot better than half the adults I’ve seen who perform such tasks! Is that right? Is that fair? I’d much rather see my food and my money being handled by an 8 year old who knows what she’s doing than by a 20 year old who doesn’t have a fucking clue! What difference does it make how old your employee is, as long as he/she can DO the fucking job! Along these same lines, most businesses will refuse to serve a young person without their parents present (and sometimes not even then). Why? If they have the money, what the fuck do you care? If a 5 year old comes into the bank with $2,000 (or even the minimum of $200) and wants to open an account, why does he/she need a parent to act in a position of “guardianship” over the money? If the kid has that much money, they obviously know how to deal with money! Even if they don’t, it’s not the bank’s fucking business to oversee the spending of someone’s money, it’s their job to store it – period! Furthermore, if a child actually has a steady job, why should they be denied things such as the ownership of property? Because then your domination over them might slip, that’s why!

Doctor-patient privilege doesn’t apply to children. Why? Those who are under 18 are denied the right to birth control. Why? The answers to both questions are the same: Arrogant adults thing kids are too fucking stupid to make decisions regarding their own health and well-being. Fuck you!

Ok, I’ve gone into the specifics enough. There are several more I could get into, but for now I’ll stop there. For more, visit the ASFAR website (on the links page) and read their declaration of principles. I agree with 90% of them.

All my beliefs regarding children can be summed up nicely by one statement: Children are sentient human beings; they are not the property of those who gave them life! And that is the whole problem right there! Parents view their kids in the same way they view their other pieces of valuable property, instead of viewing them as people with “inalienable human rights.” Indeed, it just pisses any parent off to think that their child just might have a mind of his/her own! Your children are your family, NOT your property – back the fuck off!

Parents have been given far too many “rights’ these days and therein lies the problem. You want to see the number of child murders decrease? You want to see the number of sexual crimes against children decrease? Take back all that fucking control you’ve given to parents!!! The vast majority of children who are murdered are killed by their parents, not by some lunatic on the streets! The vast majority of child molestations happen within the safety and privacy of their own home, NOT out on the streets by some dirty old man! Everyone keeps looking around and trying to find all the suspicious people who’re targeting kids, well guess what genius, in 90% of cases, you needn’t look any further than the child’s own parents! You want to protect children? Then, empower children! Give them equal status and they will soon understand that they don’t have to live in the tyrannical dictatorship commonly known as “the traditional family.” Empower them with the right to be who they are! They’ll soon come to understand that when daddy hits them, it’s not normal and they should turn daddy’s stupid ass in! They will soon understand that when daddy touches them, it’s not “ok” and they will rat on him! They don’t understand these things because all knowledge they acquire is filtered through their parents! Thus, parents can make their kids believe anything they want them to believe.

The problem is at home – not out there!

If you love your children and respect them as equals, it’s a lot easier for them to understand that “you’re the boss.” If you allow them the right to question your decisions, they’ll understand your reasoning a lot better. The words “because I said so” are NOT an explanation and any child will resent being forced to do something without knowing why. Explain why they should clean their room, instead of just forcing them to do it. I’m willing to bet that room will stay a lot cleaner when they understand the reasons for cleanliness!

Ah, but the one problem with all that is “what if they choose to disobey anyway?” Well, unless they’ll be putting their lives in danger, let them. Go ahead and let them disobey. If they don’t want to clean their room, don’t force it. Allow it to run its course and when they suddenly can’t find their favorite toy anymore, tell them “that’s your problem, I told you that you should keep your room clean. You didn’t want to listen. You created the problem without me, now you can fix the problem without me.” Hehe, that room will damn sure get clean and you can bet your ass it’ll stay clean! Let them see the consequences of their bad decisions for themselves! That’s just one way though. Personally, I use a “on the job” model. When you work a job, you have to do what the boss says, right? If you don’t, you risk losing your job. Make it the same for your kids. Let them see the real-life consequences behind their decisions.

But, alas, we have far too many lazy ass parents who’d rather just yell “do this!” and then beat the kids when they refuse. Put a little fucking thought behind it, ya lazy bastards!

A good example: I often keep kids here at home. After several times of the kids leaving candy wrappers and other trash on the floor, my wife complained. I had never noticed, but I assured her that I’d take care of it. When the kids came over again, I dumped the candy dish out on the floor and made them pick up every single one (I did this about 10 times). The result: They throw their fucking trash away now instead of being lazy about it! See, I didn’t have to spank them or even raise my voice to them. I used an example to get the point across and it worked much better than any violent and demeaning alternative. For the record, I do believe in using corporal punishment as a last resort, however I have never in my life encountered a situation that couldn’t be resolved in a better way. I’ve never needed the “last resort” and I highly doubt that I ever will.

It’s not always easy to treat the intellectually inferior as equals. Yes, children are intellectually inferior to adults (in most cases). However, if I based my estimation of someone’s worth and how much respect they deserve based on how intelligent they are, the whole fucking planet would be shit out of luck! There are a LOT of stupid people out there, but that doesn’t mean they are undeserving of equality.

Get a fucking clue and stop trampling on your children’s civil rights! They’re human beings, not your fucking slaves! They weren’t born to do everything you tell them to do, contrary to popular belief!

Get the fuck over it! Parents don’t have rights; they have responsibilities!

"A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The "supreme gift of
marriage" is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of
property, an idea to which an alleged "right to a child" would lead. In this
area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right "to be the fruit of the
specific act of the conjugal love of his parents," and "the right to be respected
as a person from the moment of his conception."

-The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2378

Related Link

The Rights of Kids in the Digital Age

A "Wired Magazine" article by John Katz