Very few children commit murder.
They don’t wage war, or commit rape, or write ridiculous laws.
All in all, children are the most peaceful and non-violent group that our country can categorize; as our country so likes to do. They’re also more discriminated against than any other group.
If you are racist or sexist or even just plain stupid, you can vote if you’re the right age. You can drink too, under the same condition but with a different number attached. In fact, you can drink until you’re completely out of control to the point of throwing up or passing out.
As long as you’re twenty-one years old.
There’s no adequate test to show if you are responsible enough to drive, or if you are going to take that responsibility seriously in the United States. Our driving exams are a joke compared to other countries’, but it’s illegal to even take the test if you aren’t old enough.
Oh, you’re of age? Go ahead, take the car. You’ll be able to drink in a few years, so you should get some experience behind the wheel.
Have you ever heard an adult utter the ridiculous phrase “kids can be so cruel”? Have you ever heard that same adult follow the statement up with the modifying sentence that should naturally follow it?
“Of course, adults are way worse!”
Nope, they don’t. And why? Well, they like being ageist. They are more comfortable with being in charge than they are admitting that their sins far outweigh those of nearly any child. Even the term ‘ageist’ is ageist; the dictionary says it’s discrimination against old people. That’s not the logical definition for that word; the logical definition is ‘someone or something that discriminates against someone else based on their age’. If you want to get specific, you have to create words like ‘youngist’ or ‘oldist’.
Also, you might want to do a better job making those words up.
Those were just off the cuff examples, not suggestions.
What do kids do, call each other names? Hit each other? Where do you think they learned this from? It’s hard to turn on the television in our country without seeing some adult treating another with a complete lack of respect. And hitting…well, we love hitting. The only thing we love more is when fictional adults pull out their guns and start shooting each other. If kids are so cruel, why aren’t they they ones committing all these crimes for our entertainment?
Who would buy into a movie where a ten-year-old walked into a bank and started shooting up the place? Or a television show where he or she raped or murdered a series of people? How ridiculous is it to imagine a little boy or a little girl using violent aggression to get what they want in some example that is equal to what we expect from adults?
Tell me again why adults are the ones in charge…?
Most people know that the kids who become bullies on the playground are almost always victims at home. It’s also pretty common knowledge that most of the adults who molest little kids were themselves molested as children. Surely some of this endless line of abuse can be traced back to the days when it was considered common practice to have sex with underage boys. It wasn’t just part of the Greek and Roman lifestyle, it was actually imbedded in their philosophy. Adults today may have made such practices illegal, but adults yesterday thought it was just fine to marginalize children in this way.
When I was a kid, I wondered why age was such a big thing. I wondered why I was told about a guy who lived a life touched by the divine who was murdered by adults at thirty-three years old in one breath, and was told that no one under thirty-five could lead our country in the next breath.
I’ve never heard a Christian complain that if Jesus walked the Earth today, he couldn’t be President of the United States even if he and everyone else wanted him to.
The law doesn’t care if you’re enlightened, or a genius, or the most incredible person who ever walked the Earth. If you aren’t old enough, you don’t matter.
How messed up is that?
History tells us that many children have come into positions of power and wielded it as well or better than adults. Some of them wield it poorly, but it seems that their numbers are again as good or better.
Why not give kids a chance, and maybe some basic human rights? We shake our heads in bewilderment when we find out that women and minorities had no voice in much of our country’s history; nobody ever suggests that kids should be allowed to vote on the situation they’ll be inheriting soon. Again, why is that?
Well, I’ll tell you why.
Scientists discovered quite some time ago that the human brain does not reach full development until about age twenty-five. Men and women don’t share a lot of commonalities, but they share this one. Not only that, the part of the brain that forms last is the part that is responsible for critical thinking. It only makes sense that we should withhold the power to make certain decisions until they have a brain that is up to the task. Of course, this argument falls apart when you look at what the government did in response to this knowledge.
Driving age became sixteen in most states, nine years before the prefrontal cortex is fully formed and ready to make good decisions.
Drinking age became twenty-one, four years early.
Voting became possible to eighteen-year-olds, even though they were still seven years of bad decisions from being able to weigh their choices effectively. This is also when young people can train to fight and die for their country, which seems unfair to a lot of people when they consider the legal drinking age. Alcohol may cause brain damage, but a bullet can cause a lot more; if an eighteen-year-old can make one choice, with that undeveloped brain, why can’t they make the other?
More importantly, why aren’t all these ages set at twenty-five? If you’re going to marginalize people, with good reason, you risk a lot by giving them those rights before they’re ready for them. And what are we risking by not paying attention to when the brain starts to deteriorate? How often do we propose that rights should start being taken away at sixty-five, in the same order they were given to young adults? Some people would call that ageist, but it really isn’t any more ageist than not letting a well-informed sixteen-year-old vote in an election.
Then again, one is behind me; and the other ahead, so…
So maybe children should be more marginalized than anyone. If anything, maybe they should be marginalized for even longer. Maybe many of the problems we face is in calling an eighteen-year-old an adult, when they don’t actually reach maturity until seven more years have passed. We’ll talk more about this next week, in a post called…
‘Undeveloped brains make big decisions!’
I hope you come back for it!
Thanks for reading!
All the best,