Ephebiphobia

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The fear of youth is called ephebiphobia.[citation needed] First coined as the "fear or loathing of teenagers,"[1] today the phenomenon is recognized as the "inaccurate, exaggerated and sensational characterization of young people" in a range of settings around the world.[2] Studies of the fear of youth occur in sociology and youth studies.

Etymology and usage[edit]

Coinage[edit]

The word ephebiphobia is formed from the Greek ἔφηβος éphēbos, meaning "youth" or "adolescent" and φόβος phóbos, meaning "fear" or "phobia". The coinage of this term is attributed to a 1994 article by Kirk Astroth published in Phi Delta Kappan.[3] Today, common usage occurs internationally by sociologists, government agencies,[4] and youth advocacy organizations that define ephebiphobia as an abnormal or irrational and persistent fear and/or loathing of teenagers or adolescence.[5][6]

Similar terms[edit]

The term paedophobia has gained popular acceptance in Europe to describe the aforementioned "fear of youth".[7][8] Pediaphobia is the fear of infants and children. Hebephobia (from the Greek ἥβη, hḗbē, "youth, puberty") has also been proposed[citation needed]. Similar terms include adultism, which is a predisposition towards adults that is biased against children and youth, and ageism, which describes discrimination against any person because of their age.

History[edit]

The fear of youth, along with fear of street culture and the fear of crime, is said to have been in Western culture for "time immemorial".[9] Machiavelli is said to have realized that a fear of youth is what kept the city of Florence from keeping a standing army.[10] Ancient Venice and ancient Greece are also said to have had floundering public policy because of their fear of youth.[11][12]

Early American Puritanism has been seen as reliant on a fear of youth, who were seen as embodying adventure and enlightenment, and therefore were viewed as susceptible to "decadent morality."[13] During the Industrial Revolution Western Europe and North America popular media was particularly driven to propagate the fear of children and youth in order to further the industrialization of schooling,[14] and eventually to remove young people from the workplace when their labor became unnecessary due to mechanization and the influx of new labor.[15]

Post-World War II France was said to have been stricken by concern for mal de jeunesse when they created policies that reflected their fear of youth. "Send them to summer camps, place others in reformatories, the rest should have some fresh air, build some athletic fields..." were the intentions of youth policies in that era.[16] Following World War II the United States military identified the growing number of youth in the Deep South as a problematic scenario for national security. Analysts have suggested the upswing in the popular culture's fear of youth may be attributed to defense policies created in response to that threat.[17]

"In the 1990s public fear of adolescents mounted," caused by the, "increased youth access to handguns, the syndicatization of territorial youth gangs into illegal drug cartels, racist stereotyping of urban youth, academic and political pandering, media frenzy, and a spate of high-profile school shootings of students by their fellow students."[18] The Seattle Weekly specifically cited the fear of youth as the driving factor behind Seattle, Washington's now-defunct Teen Dance Ordinance.[19] The government of Prime Minister Tony Blair introduced the Anti-Social Behaviour Order in 1998, which has also been attributed directly to a fear of youth.[20]

Causes[edit]

Media, marketers, politicians, youth workers and researchers have been implicated in perpetuating the fear of youth.[21] Since young people in developed countries are expected to stay out of the workforce, any role for them outside that of consumer is potentially threatening to adults.[22] Selling safety to parents and teachers has also been a driving force, as home security systems, cellphones, and computer surveillance usage is marketed to parents; and x-ray machines, metal detectors and closed-circuit television are increasingly sold to schools on the premise that young people are not to be trusted. These steps are in spite of the fact that experience consistently shows that monitoring youth does little to prevent violence or tragedy: the Columbine High School massacre occurred in a building with video surveillance and in-building police.[23]

The very creation of the terms youth, adolescence and teenager have all been attributed to the fear of youth.[24] As the western world became more industrialized, young people were increasingly driven from the workforce, including involuntary and voluntary positions, and into increasingly total institutions where they lost personal autonomy in favor of social control.[25][26] Government policies outside of schools have been implicated as well, as over the last forty years curfews, anti-loitering and anti-cruising laws, and other legislation apparently targeted at teenagers have taken hold across the country. Courts have increasingly ruled against youth rights, as well.[27][28] Before the 1940s "teenagers" were not listed in newspaper headlines, because as a group they did not exist. The impact of youth since World War II on western society has been immense, largely driven by marketing that proponents them as the "Other." In turn, youth are caused to behave in ways that appear different from adults. This has led to the phenomenon of youth, and in turn has created a perpetuated fear of them.[29]

Effects[edit]

The fear of youth is thought to exist throughout the entire Western world.[30] Sociologist Ray Oldenburg has attributed the generation gap and the "increasing segregation of youth from adults in American society" to "adult estrangement and fear of youth."[31] Fear of youth and their rejection is often disguised in a permissive attitude toward them.[32]

At least one major economist has proposed that the fear of youth can have grave effects on the economic health of nations.[33] A growing number of researchers report that the fear of youth affects the health of democracy, reporting that the consequential vilification of youth has in the past, and continues to presently undermine public,[34] social, political,[35] religious,[36] and cultural[37] participation among current and future generations.

As it affects young people themselves, ephebiphobia has been recognized as a barrier towards successful academic achievement,[38] a barrier to successful social intervention programs,[1] and as an indicator of the ineptitude of many adults to be successful parents.[39]

Social discrimination[edit]

"Today citizens as a whole as well as people who work with children live in fear of youth in our homes and schools and on our streets."[40] While "society loves their attractive bodies, youthfulness and commercial firepower," we also, "vilify adolescents as a noncontributing drain on the economy and our democracy." In the mainstream media, young people are most often portrayed as self-absorbed and apathetic, uninterested in the common good or in advancing social goals.[41]

Many social programs and social critics view the fear of youth as a condemning force against youth throughout society, particularly when coupled with racism.[42] Poet Gwendolyn Brooks was applauded for her consciousness-raising work around the fear of youth, particularly young African-Americans.[43] Popular contemporary beliefs about adolescents are different from historical narratives; in the past youth were portrayed as "the future" and the "leaders of tomorrow"; today they are seen as "a source of worry, not potential," contributing to a fear of adolescents, especially racial and ethnic minorities.[44] In turn this racist and adultist perspective informs urban law enforcement,[45][46][47][48] public schools,[49] and social services.[50] Sociologists have suggested that much of the current spread of the fear of youth is due to "adult anxiety over the shifting racial mix in the general population."[51] The effects of sexism are similarly reported to be amplified by ephebiphobia.[52] However, New York University professor Pedro Noguera has suggested that the fear of youth extends beyond color boundaries, as "skateboarders, punks, even straight-laced suburban teenagers can evoke anxiety among adults by congregating in large numbers in places deemed off-limits to youth."[53]

The ability of youth to participate throughout society is seen as compromised because of the fear of youth, and is often disguised as a paternalism or protectionism among adults.[54] Additionally, scholar Henry Jenkins, "links criticism of new media with fear of adolescents, who are the most eager adopters. Teen culture seems meaningless and dangerous without an appreciation of its context."[55]

Commercial gain[edit]

Academics specifically acknowledge the force of ephebiphobia in the commercial sector, where this fear of youth has been extensively exploited for financial gain.[56] This is elaborated on by researchers and social critics who claim that popular media, including cinema and television, specifically exacerbated society's fear of youth for financial gain,[57][58][59] as one study reports, "Extreme fear of youth is an established media panic."[60]

Pulp novels in the 1950s were mass-produced to specifically cash in on the growing fear of youth that was spreading throughout society.[61] Ironically, it has also been said that popular media's effects on young people are not as powerful as the fear of youth, which drives the fear of technology and in turn perpetuates the fear of youth.[62]

Governmental policy[edit]

Decision-making by government agencies, including public schools, policing and courts, have been found to be driven by the fear of youth.[63] The fear of adolescents has been said to cause a disjunction between what is said about the value of young people and what is done to them in education and social services, and causes them to be seen, "primarily as threats - to persons, to institutions, to status quo."[64] A number of observers have indicated the deliberate perpetuation of mass social ephebiphobia in order to elicit particular public and social responses. American sociologist Mike Males has identified trends among politicians and policy-makers of stoking the fear of youth among society in order to make headway in political campaigns and build popular support for otherwise "generate media sensation and public fear."[65] Similarly, the fear of youth has been identified as the driving factor behind many governmental programs designed to combat so-called "youth violence," in which the actions of few youth are attributed to the population of youth in general.[66][67][68] In a specific instance, "In Dallas, fear of youth led to accelerated surveillance and policing, particularly in its poorest area, Gaston."[69] The fear of adolescents is also said to have caused many governments to lower their age of criminal responsibility and escalate the detention of young people from childhood through adulthood.[70]

Education[edit]

Examining the Black Power movement of the 1970s, one researcher wrote, "The common adult dislike and fear of youth is compounded by the teacher's fear — fear of losing control in the classroom, fear of losing one's authority."[71] A specific increase in the fear of youth in schools following the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 is seen as a particular cause in evidence suggesting an overall decrease in student engagement throughout high schools today.[72] Fear of youth has led to the development of zero tolerance policies in many schools,[73] which in turn is attributed as the cause of the increase in arrests for juvenile crime on school campuses, which has promoted the fear of youth and led school administrators to call police for infractions once dealt with internally.[74]

Combating ephebiphobia[edit]

The American Library Association has developed a resource collection for librarians specifically to combat the ephebiphobia by promoting customer service skills specific to youth.[75] However, sociologist Mike Males has suggested that ephebiphobia does not analyze the problem deep enough, as the fear of adult stereotype of adolescence, or kourophobia, is the core challenge facing young people today.[76]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Astroth, K. (1994) Beyond ephebiphobia: problem adults or problem youths? (fear of adolescents). Phi Delta Kappan. January 1, 1994.
  2. ^ Hoffman, A.M. and Summers, R.W. (2001) Teen Violence: A Global View. Greenwood Press. p 2.
  3. ^ Gough, P. (2000) "Detoxifying Schools." Phi Delta Kappan. March 1, 2000.
  4. ^ European Union's Stop Discrimination website - Glossary on age
  5. ^ Grønnestad-Damur, W. & Pratch, L. (n.d.) No Ephebiphobia Here! Edmonton: Edmonton Public Library.
  6. ^ Clark, C. (2004) Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers (Youth, Family, and Culture). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  7. ^ Childhood is changing, but "paedophobia" makes things worse Institute for Public Policy Research. 22 October 2006.
  8. ^ Waiton, S. (2006) The Roots of Paedophobia. Online.
  9. ^ Pearson, G. (1983). Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 236. ISBN 0-333-23399-9. 
  10. ^ Trexler, R. C. (1980). Public Life in Renaissance Florence. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 390. ISBN 0-8014-2694-4. 
  11. ^ Garland, Robert (1993). "Review of Ancient Youth: The Ambiguity of Youth and the Absence of Adolescence in Greco-Roman Society by M. Kleijwegt". Journal of Hellenic Studies 113: 204–205. JSTOR 632438. 
  12. ^ Strauss, B. (1993). Fathers and Sons in Athens: Ideology and Society in the Era of the Peloponnesian War. London: Routledge. p. 16. ISBN 0-415-04146-5. 
  13. ^ Meily, C. (1911) Puritanism. C. H. Kerr & Company. p 118.
  14. ^ Gatto, J.T., (2001) The Underground History of American Education. Oxford Village Press.
  15. ^ Savage, J. (2007) Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture. Viking Adult.
  16. ^ Jobs, R.I. (2007) Riding the New Wave: Youth and the Rejuvenation of France After the Second World War. Stanford University Press. p 230
  17. ^ Davis, Angela (2002). "The 'Youth Bulge' in the South". In Silliman, J.; Bhattacharjee, A.; Davis, A. J. Policing the National Body: Sex, Race, and Criminalization. Cambridge: South End Press. p. 235. ISBN 0-89608-661-5. 
  18. ^ Rosenheim, M.K., Zimring, F.E. and Tanenhaus, D.S. (2002) A Century of Juvenile Justice. University of Chicago Press. p 282.
  19. ^ Parrish, G. (1999). "Fear of Youth", Seattle Weekly. February 29, 1999.
  20. ^ Street-Porter, J. (2005) "The Politicians Fear of Youth Culture", The Independent April 7, 2005.
  21. ^ Fletcher, A. (2006) Washington Youth Voice Handbook. CommonAction. p 11. Retrieved 6/3/08.
  22. ^ Sternheimer, K. (2006) Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions about Today's Youth. Rowman & Littlefield. p 140.
  23. ^ Sternheimer, K. (2006) p 146.
  24. ^ Savage, J. (2007) Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945. Chatto & Windus.
  25. ^ Gatto, J.T.. (2001) The Underground History of American Education. Oxford Village Press. p 306.
  26. ^ Breeding, J. (2002) True nature and great misunderstandings: On How We Care for Our Children. Virtualbookworm Publishing. p 10.
  27. ^ Lauter, P. and Howe, P. (1971) The conspiracy of the young. Meridian. p 304.
  28. ^ Epstein, R. (2007) The case against adolescence. Quill Driver Books. p 323.
  29. ^ Palladino, G. (1996) Teenagers: An American perspective. BasicBooks. p 247.
  30. ^ Konopka, G. (1983) Social Group Work: A Helping Process. Prentice Hall. p 40.
  31. ^ Oldenburg, R. (1999) The Great Good Place: Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons. Marlowe & Company. p xx.
  32. ^ McGill, D. (2002) Becoming a New Testament Leader: Biblical Reflections for Training Youth. St. Mary's Press. p 92.
  33. ^ Gray, D. (1999) Negroponte: Europe's Net development held back by fear of youth, risk taking CNN. September 15, 1999.
  34. ^ Jones, P., Shoemaker, S. Chelton, M. (2001) Do It Right! Best Practices for Serving Young Adults in School and Public Libraries New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.
  35. ^ Lawrence Grossberg, (2005) Caught In The Crossfire: Kids, Politics, And America's Future (Cultural Politics & the Promise of Democracy) New York: Paradigm Publishers
  36. ^ Rice, W. (1998) Junior High Ministry: A Guide to Early Adolescence for Youth Workers. Zondervan Publishing. p 15.
  37. ^ Giroux, H. (2004) Take Back High Education: Race, Youth, and the Crisis of Democracy in the post-Civil Rights Era New York: Palgrave
  38. ^ Butts, P.M. (2000) Beyond Ephebiphobia: Overcoming the Fear of Middle & High School Students; A Program for Public Librarians. Macatawa, MI: Macatawa Public Library.
  39. ^ Coontz, S. (1999) The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms With America's Changing Families. New York: Basic Books.
  40. ^ Bender, S.J., Neutens, J., Skonie-Hardin, S., et al. (1997) Teaching health science: Elementary and middle school. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p 7.
  41. ^ Jee, K. and Sherman, R. (2006) "Youth as important civic actors: From the margins to the center", National Civic Review. 95;1.
  42. ^ Delgado, M. (2001) Where are All the Young Men and Women of Color? Columbia University Press. p 231.
  43. ^ Levingston, K. (2001) "New Statistics Puncture Myth of Violent Kids", Philadelphia Inquirer. January 6, 2001. Retrieved 5/9/08.
  44. ^ Zeldin, S. (2002). "Sense of community and positive adult beliefs toward adolescents and youth policy in urban neighborhoods and small cities". Journal of Youth and Adolescence 31 (5): 331–342. doi:10.1023/A:1015624507644. 
  45. ^ Males, M. (2002) "The New Demons: Ordinary teens". Los Angeles Times. April 21, 2002.
  46. ^ Youth Media Council. (2005) Reclaiming Meaning, Echoing Justice. Oakland, CA: Author.
  47. ^ Collins, J. (2002). Gangs, Crime and Community Safety: Perceptions and Experiences in Multicultural Sydney Sydney: University of Technology.
  48. ^ Scottish Executive (2006) Measurement of the Extent of Youth Crime in Scotland.
  49. ^ Kozol, J. (2005) The Shame of a Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. New York: Three Rivers Press.
  50. ^ Abram, S. (2007) "Ephebiphobia," p 130 in Abram, S. Out Front with Stephen Abram: A Guide for Information Leaders. ALA Editions.
  51. ^ Rapping, E. (2003) Law and Justice as Seen on TV. NYU Press. p 208.
  52. ^ Bromwich, R.J. (2002) Beyond Villains and Victims: Some Thoughts on Youth and Violence in Canada. Toronto, ON: Women's Justice Network.
  53. ^ Noguera, P. (2003) City Schools and the American Dream: Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education. Teachers College Press. p 127.
  54. ^ Fredman, S. and Spencer, S. (2003) Age as an Equality Issue. Hart Publishing. p 34.
  55. ^ Tushnet, R. ("Volunteers from the Audience: Audience Interests and the First Amendment," Georgetown University Law Center. p 3., footnote 10.
  56. ^ Palladino, G. (1997) Teenagers: An American History. New York: Basic Books.
  57. ^ "Studios caught in teen-age dilemmas Multiplex issues," Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA), July 20, 2001.
  58. ^ Shary, T. (2002). Generation Multiplex: The Image of Youth in Contemporary American Cinema. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 4.
  59. ^ Giroux, H. (1999) The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  60. ^ Hope, A. and Oliver, P. (2005) Risk, education and culture. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p 79.
  61. ^ Shary, T. (2005) Teen Movies: American Youth on Screen. Wallflower Press. p 20.
  62. ^ Sternhiemer, S. (2003) It's Not the Media: The Truth about Pop Culture's Influence on Children. Westview Press. p 115.
  63. ^ Giroux, H. (2003) The Abandoned Generation: Democracy beyond the culture of fear. New York: Palgrave.
  64. ^ Beker, J. and Magnuson, D. (1996) Residential Education as an Option for At-Risk Youth. Haworth Press. p 60.
  65. ^ Males, M. (2001) "Lies, Damn Lies, and 'Youth Risk' Surveys" Youth Today. April 2001
  66. ^ Barak, G. (2003) Violence and Nonviolence: Pathways to Understanding. Sage Publications Inc. p 132.
  67. ^ Collins, J., Noble, G., and Poynting, B. (2000) Kebabs, Kids, Cops and Crime: Youth, Ethnicity and Crime. Pluto Press Australia. p 122.
  68. ^ Walgrave, L. and Bazemore, B. (1999) Restorative Juvenile Justice: Repairing the Harm of Youth Crime. Criminal Justice Press. p 192.
  69. ^ Wilson, D. (2005) Inventing Black-on-Black Violence: Discourse, Space, and Representation. Syracuse University Press. p 144.
  70. ^ Susskind, A. (1987) "Issues in Institutional Child Sexual Abuse The Abused, the Abuser, and the System," Residential Treatment for Children & Youth. 4;2. p 19.
  71. ^ Ornstein, A.C. (1972) Urban Education: Student Unrest, Teacher Behaviors, and Black Power. Charles E. Merrill Publishing Co. p 73.
  72. ^ Campbell, N. (2004) American Youth Cultures. Routledge. p 19.
  73. ^ Lyons, W. and Drew, J. (2006) Punishing Schools: Fear And Citizenship In American Public Education. University of Michigan Press. p 4.
  74. ^ Acland, C.R. (1995) Youth, Murder, Spectacle: The Cultural Politics of "youth in crisis". Westview Press. p 144.
  75. ^ ALA President's Program. (1994) "Beyond Ephebiphobia: A tool chest for customer service to young adults." American Library Association.
  76. ^ Males, M. (1999) Framing Youth: 10 myths about the next generation. Common Courage Press. p 47.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Lesko, N. (2001) Act Your Age!: A Cultural Construction of Adolescence. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92833-8.
  • (n.d.) "Youth liberation", Z magazine online.
  • Three Types of Youth Liberation - by Sven Bonnichsen
  • Pro-Youth - A firm text against ageism towards teenagers, presenting a case of ageism committed by a jury.
  • Everyone deserves to be given a chance - An essay against ageism towards teenagers, written by a Canadian adolescent.
  • "Are We Down On Our Kids?" - A Review of Caught in the Crossfire: Kids, Politics, and America's Future by Lawrence Grossberg in Endeavours magazine that diagnoses cultural ephebiphobia in the U.S.
  • Ayotte, W. (1986) As Soon as You're Born They Make You Feel Small: Self Determination for Children.
  • Chicago Anarchist Youth Federation (n.d.) Schoolstoppers Textbook.
  • Cullen, S. (1991) Children in Society: a libertarian critique. London: Freedom Press.
  • Goodman, P. (1964) Compulsory Mis-education and The Community of Scholars. New York: Vintage Books.
  • Illich, I. (1970) Deschooling Society. New York: Harrow Books.
  • Holt, J. (1972) Freedom and Beyond. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co.
  • Miller, A. (1990) For Your Own Good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence. 3rd edition. New York: Noonday Press.
  • Sternheimer, K. (2006) Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions about Today's Youth. Rowman and Littlefield.

External links[edit]