What Can They Know? The Political Status of Children and the Phenomenology of Childhood Experience

Document Type : Original Article


Depaul/College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences


In America, it is common to hear people say that they “hate kids” even in an era of political correctness when to declare that one hates, say, women, people of color, or members of the LGBTQA community would be completely unacceptable. Currently, there is little scholarship conducted, and there are virtually no university courses taught, on the topic of the rights of children. Compare this to the amount of scholarship that exists, and is encouraged, concerning sexism, racism, ableism, and LGBTQA discrimination. All of this, then, despite the fact that minors make up roughly 27% of the world’s population, despite all of us having once been children, despite our professed concern, love, and care for children. All of this is because children are, perhaps, the last group of oppressed human beings that we fail to recognize as oppressed. What is noteworthy about the oppression of young people compared to the oppression of other groups is how governments tend to position themselves in relation to the issue. Rather than denying children specific rights, the U.S. government, for instance, remains agnostic on most issues, preferring to give parents and guardians the legal right to decide what their children can and cannot do.


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