Elders VS Youngsters: The Menace of ‘Adultism’


Its said that youth are the pillars of the nation; but it seems that sometimes we forget to foster the spirit of these highest population of any society; and the society itself fails to recognize this potential human resource properly to excel.

In our society as a social dictate, elders always mistreated and disrespected younger ones, simply because they are younger in terms of year and the younger one simply let the elders to exercise their veto power over them considering them as elders are “well-informed one”.

Manipur Map as seen on Google Maps
Manipur as seen on Google Maps


However, it does not take young people seriously and does not include them as decision makers in the broader life of their communities. Some of the common word that some of the elders usually simply address to his/her youngers; “HE IS JUST 18”, “IT’S NOT CHILD’S PLAY”, in Manipuri words like “NGARANG-GI NGAKHA”, “ANGANG MANA KARI KHANGDOIBA”. These are the most common term associated somewhat with an elder-younger relationship, but the question is that have we ever thought about it that, what it implied? The meaning of such terms is nothing else then disrespect of the youngsters, and it’s termed as ADULTISM.

The term which was first used by Patterson Du Bois in 1903, described in such a way that it is the behaviors and attitudes based on the assumption that adults are better than young people, and entitled to act upon youngsters without their agreement.

In this regard youth are vulnerable to more controlled than any other group in society that except for prisoners. Child psychologist and experts have the opinion that this “misbehaviors and attitudes” undermines the self-confidence and self-esteem of the youth that is very essence in their mental and maturity development.

Adultism and bullying is happening very frequently nowadays and on the contrary it is directly or indirectly reinforced by the social institutions, laws, customs, and attitudes of the people. Psychologist and experts have identified some important forms, which includes internalized, institutionalized, cultural, and other forms of adultism.

Professor Barry Checkoway of University of Michigan School of Social Work, identified in one of his work that, one of the most common form of adultism “internalize” causes the victim child to “question their own legitimacy, doubt their ability to make a difference” and maintain a “culture of silence” among his/her fiend circle.

In an article written by JohnBell, Director of Leadership Development, Youth Build, USA clearly mentioned that “If you think about it, you will realize that except for prisoners and a few other institutionalized groups, young people are more controlled than any other group in society. Most young people are told what to eat, what to wear, when to go to bed, when they can talk, that they will go to school, which friends are okay, and when they are to be in the house. The opinions of most young people are not valued; they are punished at the will or whim of adults; their emotions are considered immature.”

Constant adultism leads to increasing sense of worthlessness, feeling of powerlessness, uninvolved, growing negative self-concept, self-hatred, attempting suicide, depression, etc. More over due to adultism youths are resorted to commit anti social activities to express themselves and to quench their anger towards the elders.

However, the effects are the real social menace and it would surely an impediment in the socio-economic development process of the nation. We need to avoid the two extremes; youth as incompetent and elders are supreme in all aspects.

We can create a solid relationship among these social groups, if elders listen attentively and validated to young people’s thoughts, experiences and feelings and support the initiatives as well as let youths are participated in the process of leadership and decision making too. So, it’s the right time to act; to shut down this unclaimed social menace.


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