Age is not an accomplishment, and youth is not a sin.
It is idle to talk of civil liberties to adults who were systematically taught in adolescence that they had none; and it is sheer hypocrisy to call such people freedom loving.
Edgar Friedenberg “The Dignity of Youth and Other Atavisms”
Too many people grow up. That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don’t remember what it’s like to be 12 years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors.
A child, like all other human beings, has inalienable rights.
No guarantees come with children’s liberation. But neither the promise of great benefits to all nor the prediction of great difficulties ahead can serve as the reason for granting or denying rights to children. Rights will be granted because without them children are incapacitated, oppressed, and abused.
Richard Farson “Birthrights”
No one is more truly helpless, more completely a victim, than he who can neither choose nor change nor escape his protectors.
John Holt “Escape from Childhood” (1974)
Regardless of what the law or your teachers have to say about this, you are as human as anyone over the age of 18 or 21, yet, ‘minors’ are one of the most oppressed groups of people in the world, and certainly the most discriminated against legally.
Grace Llewellyn “The Teenage Liberation Handbook”
13ers [“Generation Xers”] have been bombarded with study after story after column about how bad they supposedly are. Americans in their teens and twenties, we are told, are consumed with violence, selfishness, greed, bad work habits, and civic apathy. Turn on the TV, and it’s hard to see a bad-news-for-America story-from crime to welfare to consumerism-in which young bodies and faces don’t show up prominently in the footage.
Neil Howe and Bill Strauss “13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?”
What’s done to children, they will do to society.
We have the most prolonged adolescence in the history of mankind. There is no other society that requires so many years to pass before people are grown up … Adolescence is nurtured and prolonged by educational processes and by industry that has found a bonanza in embracing the adolescent population and fortifying ‘adolescent values.’ This prolongation of adolescence robs the country of the population group having the most risk takers, and the highest ideals.
Ralph Nader, Speech at Harvard Law School, Feb. 26, 1972
Adolescence was invented in the nineteenth century to enable middle-class families to keep their children out of sweatshops. But it has degenerated into a process of enforced boredom and age segregation that has produced one of the most destructive social arrangements in human history, consigning thirteen-year-old males to learning from fifteen-year-old males. It’s a social experiment that failed.
It is not just power, but impotence, that corrupts people. It gives them the mind and soul of slaves. It makes them indifferent, lazy, cynical, irresponsible, and, above all, stupid.
John Holt “Escape from Childhood” (1974)
Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.
The attack on youth is a national pathology, unwarranted by fact, smokescreen for the failure of adulthood and its leadership to confront larger predicaments. No rescue by the monied, governing, institutional, or otherwise privileged is in sight. It’s up to the energy and inventiveness of the younger generation to pull the gated minds of millennium America toward acceptance of diversity, community, and fairness, and I hope they have as much fun as I did in my adolescences achieving what we Sixties kids only imagined.
Mike Males “Framing Youth”
The ‘teenager’ seems to have replaced the Communist as the appropriate target for public controversy and foreboding.
Edgar Friedenberg “The Vanishing Adolescent”
Don’t let anyone think little of you because you are young.
1 Timothy 4:12
Parents can only give good advice or put (children) on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.
Children organizing for political rights will probably be treated initially with ridicule and derision, and then with misunderstanding and perhaps eventually violence if the experience of the struggle for women’s suffrage is any precedent. Undoubtedly the greatest obstacle to be overcome is the adult refusal to acknowledge that children suffer political discrimination and exclusion. Adults do not perceive children as a minority group but as helpless, inexperienced, defenseless young people who need protection. Adult paternalism seeks to protect and if in this process it curtails freedom, truncates potential and destroys civil liberties this is taken to be incidental. The belief in the legitimacy of paternalism justifies and cements the existing power relationships between adults and young people. This attitude must be confronted, challenged and refuted if young people are to secure their political rights…
Bob Franklin “The Rights of Children”
If men do not keep on speaking terms with children, they cease to be men and become merely machines for eating and for earning money.
We are all creative, but by the time we are three of four years old, someone has knocked the creativity out of us. Some people shut up the kids who start to tell stories. Kids dance in their cribs, but someone will insist they sit still. By the time the creative people are ten or twelve, they want to be like everyone else.
There never was a time when a major social problem was solved by beating a child. And there never will be such a time… For centuries adults have injured children and have lied about it, and other adults have heard those lies and then merely turned away.
Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop, 1989
The “dads” have all the power so they don’t want anything to change. The “moms” have a little power but they’re hungry for more. And the young people…. they have little or no power so they’re desperate for any.
Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby
Corporal punishment does for childhood what wife beating does for marriage. There are laws against hitting your wife, hitting a guy on the street, even against hitting your dog. But it’s still perfectly legal in most of this country for teachers to hit our children.
Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline.
If 16-year-olds are old enough to drink the water polluted by the industries that you regulate, if 16-year-olds are old enough to breathe the air ruined by garbage burners that government built, if 16-year-olds are old enough to walk on the streets made unsafe by terrible drugs and crime policies, if 16-year-olds are old enough to live in poverty in the richest country in the world, if 16-year-olds are old enough to get sick in a country with the worst public health-care programs in the world, and if 16-year-olds are old enough to attend school districts that you underfund, than 16-year-olds are old enough to play a part in making them better.
Rebecca Tilsen, 14, of Minneapolis given as testimony to the Minnesota House subcommittee in 1991 regarding lowering the voting age.
The greatest Glory of a free-born People, Is to transmit that Freedom to their Children.
The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.
Frank A. Clark
It used to be believed that the parent had unlimited claims on the child and rights over him. In a truer view of the matter, we are coming to see that the rights are on the side of the child and the duties on the side of the parent.
William G. Sumner, 1840-1910
I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
Harry S. Truman, 1884-1972
Treat kids as equals! They’re people, too! They’re smarter than you think! They were smart enough to get me!
Sideshow Bob, Season 1, The Simpsons, “Krusty Gets Busted”
The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they – at some distant point in the future – will take over the reigns. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely… because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties. For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.
If I am young and wrong, then you are right [to look down on my youthful ignorance.] But if I am young and right, what does my age matter?
All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.
John Holt “How Children Learn” (1967)
The solution of adult problems tomorrow depends in large measure upon the way our children grow up today. There is no greater insight into the future than recognizing that, when we save children, we save ourselves.
It is easy for us to criticize the prejudices of our grandfathers, from which our fathers freed themselves. It is more difficult to distance ourselves from our own views, so that we can dispassionately search for prejudices among the beliefs and values we hold.
Peter Singer “Practical Ethics”
Children do not constitute anyone’s property: they are neither the property of their parents nor even of society. They belong only to their own future freedom.
Whether children have first amendment rights is a vexed legal question, but what is not in question is that they someday will. Constraining them from expressing their views is no preparation for exercising those rights.
My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself.
George Bernard Shaw “Everybody’s Political What’s What”
Schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes any more that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders.
John Taylor Gatto
A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.
It is… nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreak and ruin. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.
My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school.
I loathed every day and regret every day I spent in school. I like to be taught to read and write and add and then be left alone.
I was happy as a child with my toys in my nursery. I have been happier every year since I became a man. But this interlude of school makes a somber grey patch upon the chart of my journey. It was an unending spell of worries that did not then seem petty, and of toil uncheered by fruition; a time of discomfort, restriction and purposeless monotony.
Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Song Lyrics and Poetry
We don’t need no education
we don’t need no thought control
no dark sarcasm in the classroom
teacher leave them kids alone
Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall”
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet”
We don’t refer to the past when showing what we’ve done
a generation gap means the war is never won
the past is in your head; the future’s in our hands
cause I’m a brat, and I know everything
and I talk back, cause I’m not listening to anything you say
and if you count to three, you’ll see its no emergency
you’ll see I’m not the enemy, just a prisoner of society
The Living End “Prisoner of Society”
I stop and stare at the younger my heart goes to ’em
They test, it was stress that they under
And nowadays things change
Everyone’s ashamed of the youth
‘Cuz the truth look strange and for me it’s reversed
We left them a world that’s cursed and it hurts
Tupac Shakur “Ghetto Gospel”
Kids, I wish every mom and dad would make a speech to their teenagers and say, ‘Kids, be free, be whatever you are, do whatever you want to do, just as long as you don’t hurt anybody. And remember kids, I am you friend.”
From the musical Hair
Come mothers and fathers throughout the land,
and don’t criticize what you can’t understand,
your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,
your old road is rapidly aging,
please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand,
oh the times they are a changing
Bob Dylan “The Times they are a changing”
We are the children you reject and disregard
These aching cries come from the bottom of our hearts
You can’t disown us now, we are your own flesh and blood
And we don’t disappear just because your eyes are shut, now tell me
Rise Against “From Heads Unworthy”
What if we could awaken all people to the chains that tie them down? What if everyone saw we were responsible for holding ourselves down? What if the message of systematic and deliberate oppression were exposed to the entire society and Everyone everywhere saw that young people were looked down upon, frowned about, sat upon and shat upon throughout their whole youth.
Adam Fletcher & Robert Grant “Free My People” download the song here!
Every thought I’d think you’d disapprove
Always censoring my every move
Children are seen but are not heard
Tear out everything inspired
Metallica “Dyers Eve”
It’s all so confusing, this brutal abusing
They blacken your eyes, and then apologize
You’re daddy’s good girl, and don’t tell mommy a thing
Be a good little boy, and you’ll get a new toy
Tell grandma you fell off the swing
Pat Benatar “Hell is for Children”
The power of children can amaze
Bush “Chemicals Between Us”
Revolution in their minds – the children start to march
Against the world in which they have to live
and all the hate that’s in their hearts
They’re tired of being pushed around
and told just what to do
They’ll fight the world until they’ve won
and love comes flowing through
Black Sabbath “Children of the Grave”
…And these children
that you spit on
as they try to change their worlds
are immune to your consultations.
They’re quite aware
of what they’re going through…
David Bowie “Changes”
And the world will know
And the world will learn
And the world will wonder how we made the tables turn
And the world will see
That we had to choose
That the things we do today will be tomorrow’s news
And the old will fall
And the young stand tall
And the time is now
And the winds will blow
And our ranks will grow and grow and grow and so
The world will feel the fire
And finally know!
“The World Will Know” Newsies
Open the gates and seize the day
Don’t be afraid and don’t delay
Nothing can break us
No one can make us
Give our rights away
Arise and seize the day
“Seize the Day” Newsies
They say yes, and you say no
They ask you why, and you close the door
My old friend, I thought you knew by now
You can’t do that to the young folks
Oh, no no no no
Jackson 5 “The Young Folks”
Nine o’clock, no stamp on your hand
It’s hard to rock when you can’t see the band
You have enough money to pay the rates
But you can’t get in because of your age
The Teen Idles “Minor Disturbance – Too Young To Rock”
From an early age We’re taught and trained, oppressed and stained to an extent beyond our imagination at that time Shown that we should stay put, sit still, hold on, walk, don’t run, and be quiet, whatever you do, be quiet.
Adam Fletcher & Robert Grant “Free My People” download the song here!
Quotes About NYRA
NYRA is at the forefront of the continuing struggle for social justice in the US. Their leadership offers a hopeful, energetic light in the sea of darkness that surrounds many communities by providing an unparalleled vision. With that vision as a roadmap for the future, NYRA offers a much needed leadership in the present, and one that will guide the entire youth movement for many years to come.
Adam Fletcher, freechild.org
There are groups that present an articulate youth rights point of view that are independent from both the “save our youth” and “corporate interest” viewpoints. NYRA is one of those groups.
Mike A. Males, Author, “Framing Youth”
Most of us tend to view childhood as a time of carefree pleasure. Those of us who have looked at the real condition of children in America, however, see a very different picture–one in which children are victims of terrible discrimination, prejudice, and abuse. They need protection. But the protection they need most is to have the protection of civil rights, so that they can be regarded as full persons under the law. The organization leading that effort, with research, discussion and effective action, is the National Youth Rights Association. Supporting it supports children and youth in the most important way possible.
Richard Farson, Author, “Birthrights”
Today I realized that the rights of youth are not simply an issue, but a HUGE issue. It never really clicked in my mind just how much we are being oppressed. It never really clicked how youth rights stem out into so many other issues. It’s shocking…. I just wanted to say thank you for working so hard, and for believing so strongly. You really are making a difference.
Shiree Weinbaum, NYRA Member