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April 09, 2005

Justice is a drama that plays out on many stages

[NOTE: This document was added to the blog on May 22, 2005]

Justice is a drama that plays out on many stages.

Many of the instances of injustice occur within institutions, where behavior is very scripted. Moving from injustice to justice, then, requires formally re-writing scripts -- laws, within-organization policies, training manuals. Scripts must also be taught to the people that will enact them. This involves someone being paid to do trainings for officials, money being spent on public education, youth being trained on how to use their rights, and formal processes being in place for resolving complaints.

We cannot re-write these scripts from above. The physical scripts exist on many levels: from an individual teacher's syllabus & classroom rules, to the college textbook they read, to the policies of national education associations, and federal laws that dole out funding. In many ways, the process of bringing society-wide justice is like being a book-editor. You have to focus on the wording of texts, what texts exists -- and which don't. ...Unfortunately, the number of texts that need editing is enormous, and the physical reprinting of institutional documents is infrequent.

An oft unnoticed aspect of justice is that all the acting officials are paid. Creating social change is founded upon countless unpaid volunteer hours. But with regards to institutional justice -- every act of justice has a literal price tag attached to it. If a city fails to levy enough tax money, courts shut down, and prisoners are released from the jails -- as I've seen in my home town of Portland, OR. Corrupt government is inexpensive -- but the "checks and balances" that bring about a just system require paid employees. When economic hard times hit, justice will suffer.

The causes of adultism are selfish; the opponents of youth lib are aggressive in their interests. But institutional systems, to an extent, run on inertia. There is room for the Youth Lib movement to take proactive moves toward justice -- against the current of opposition (which may take some time to organize its backlash).

Our movement must recognize two important principles in its self-organization: (1) specialization, (2) youth community development.

With regards to specialization, there are so many institutional areas that require attention and effort -- within any city, there is a need for dozens of oversight and activist groups. Yet, the pool of youth who have an interest in doing this work, rather than simply enjoying their own lives, will always be inadequate for the job. Justice is likely to always be only partial. But something is better than nothing!

Regarding youth community development, there is a fair amount of discussion that has to go on among youth about what it means to be a youth in order to encourage even a portion of youth to become activists. There need to be physical locations where youth can meet that are non-school and non-activity oriented, that is, where youth have some opportunity to talk about their experience of being youth in their particular locales. These opportunities for discussion should not be limited to projects intended to train activists. While YL activists may fantasize about all youth joining the cause, we have to accept that many will not (and some will even be against the cause). Even so, the discussion about the experience of youth identity is a discussion that should be shared as widely as possible.


acceptance of spanking and parental tyranny

  • explicit condemnation by parenting books and experts
    • adoption of principles by American Psychological Association, etc.
      • supporting research papers

  • projects that offer voluntary youth-adult "contracts"
    • domestic "mediation" projects for youth-adult conflict -- a voluntary conflict resolution system

ending an instance of violence against minors by parents in the home
  • creation of anti-violence laws at city, county, state level
    • funding for public ed campaigns (billboards, TV ads)

  • physical self-defense training projects
    • violence awareness and "safety planning" education

  • calling the police
    • having been trained at school about your options
    • police receive training in how to intercede in such situations
      • making restraining orders available to youth

  • temporary escape to safe houses
    • youth underground network (potentially illegal)
    • good public transit system
    • working with youth hostels to provide emergency shelter
    • eliminating runaway laws
    • eliminate curfews
    • train police not to return youth to parents

  • divorcing your parents in the courts
    • establish a legal precedent with a court victory
    • write the right to divorce a guardian into state law
    • youth access to welfare system
    • creation of special scholarships for youth leaving parents
    • college scholarships should not be based on parental income if separated
    • project of youth co-op / shared (inexpensive) housing opportunities

[homeless youth services]


classroom practices

  • adoption of principles by teachers associations
    • "fair classroom" ideas taught in colleges
      • publication of books on "fair classroom" practices
        • research on "fair classroom" practices in academic journals

  • adoption of "fair classroom" principles by school board
    • teachers go through training on what is required of them

  • complaint process is in place in school
    • training for students on how to use the complaint process

participation in the decision-making processes of the school board
  • "unionization" of students (replacing bogus "student councils")
  • processes formally documented for making hiring / firing / funding decisions
    • school model is documented and shared among national assoc. of schools (?)

  • regular trainings for students on how to participate in school government
    • a curriculum for these trainings is written
      • an in-staff is given responsibility, or training is contracted out

  • governmental funding of school is dependent upon meeting standards of student inclusion in decision-making

[unschooling / deschooling]
  • promotion of student-directed learning model
  • teachers no longer hired for on-going contracts, rather on-call for students
    • ght with teachers' unions

  • option of unschooling is promoted


discrimination in housing and public accommodation

  • knowing your rights and how to document abuses
  • a well funded / staffed bureau of labor & industry to prosecute complaints
    • education of owners of housing and public accommodation
      • in-house staff training

  • public outcry at discrimination - protests and news coverage
  • meet city / county / state representatives to institute non-discrimination ordinances / statutes

media defamation
  • watchdog groups for local papers, local TV news, national TV & papers
  • orchestration of quick-response letter-writing campaigns (sim. to Amnesty International)
  • youth voice media projects producing their own (counter) stories

[anti-youth attitudes]
  • among youth, discussion of anti-youth attitudes (toward "youth culture"?) [targeting youth because they become adults]
  • celebration of youth culture: music, clothing, etc. [=pop culture?]
  • youth arts projects promoting creation of authentic, original youth expressions
  • ongoing discussion about "maturity" and "adulthood" as behavioral ideals
  • youth centers / cultural orgs for non-school, non-activity youth interaction
    • identifying youth community needs (e.g. new playground, bussing options)


city hall / state legislature - discriminatory policies

  • independent lobby groups exists to watchdog these decision-making bodies
  • grassroots effort to identify youth interests and lobby for them
  • a model of how to involve youth (not youth advisory councils) is propagated among city / state-level attorney associations
  • pro-active meetings with city / state representatives to dismantle curfews, etc.

city / state / federal vote
  • changing the U.S. constitution
  • changing state and city level constitutions
  • funding for public ed campaign about voter registration for minors
  • voting sites in locations easy for youth to access (schools)
  • cultural support for youth vote via youth participation in school decision-making structures

Missing here are economic issues... Youth right to work, how much money a youth is entitled to receive from their parents, etc.

This list of "stages for the drama of justice" should be double-checked against other "bill of rights" type documents.

Should "bedroom" be a stage for justice, with regards to sex? Or does this fall under the context of parental tyranny and potential youth-parent contracts? I'm thinking that voluntary participation in an agreement is the only solution within the family. We can outlaw certain acts, which then requires involving an outside agency to intervene. But within the voluntary association of parent and child, you have to mutually agree on who your conflict-resolution party will be. Agreeing on the use of an outside conflict-resolution organization may be the best solution I've found so far -- given that otherwise you have to always fall back on the parent as their own judge.

I'm also very interested here in how I've configured anti-youth attitudes as negative attitudes toward "youth culture" rather than individuals. This then situates the origins of fighting stereotypes in the with-in community discussion about youth culture. That's an exciting development. Interesting how it moves away from individualism toward the necessity of community-building (and maintenance). No justice without community. No community without communication.

1:40 hrs writing

Posted by Sven at April 9, 2005 12:00 PM