Are Kids People?

We all mattered, long before anyone else acknowledged it.

Are kids people?

Well, this ought to be an easy one.

But it’s not.

Because granting kids actual personhood would kind of mess up a large majority of everything we put them through.

Let me explain.

Some people use maxims to form their line of thinking. Some use religion, and some let their political affiliations decide for them. To my mind, it’s pretty fair to assume that we normally think the way we think because someone probably taught us to think that way.

Now, as we grow and mature we normally abandon some of those ideas and adopt a few others along the way. But, eventually we settle down and get comfortable with our thoughts and attitudes. Nevertheless, I wonder how often people sit down and spend some time actually thinking about their own thinking: the starting point of thoughts, the repercussions of political attitudes, the reasons that drive their reasoning.  

I only make the aforementioned points because it’s absolutely vital that we address our thinking and presuppositions. I say this because most of us, including myself, were probably not really ever taught how to think – because most of the time, people older than us, were telling us what to think.

But now it’s time to think about our own thinking. 

And what we need to decide is whether or not kids are people.

But maybe we should slow it down. Let’s first just start by asking if we even treat kids like people.      

Because I’m not sure we do. 

Our day and age is rife with misconceptions about many things.  Misconceptions are built on prejudice, ignorance, misinformation, and self-interest amongst a slew of other things. But misconceptions can go away – we just need to put in a little time to chip away at these ideas.

One pervasive misconception in this day and age is that kids are not people; that they lack a certain personhood. Seriously. In much of our popular culture, kids resemble something more like property than actual people.  It’s pretty common to think we can do what we want with kids, mold them, shape them, tell them what to do, how to think, and where to be, when to be there and, what’s more, we give them consequences if they disagree with us – just to show them who’s in charge.

We can even beat them if we’ve bred them. Legally.

I’m afraid we have some pretty ridiculous notions to take personhood away from people – but especially kids. We’ve come up with reasons like “Oh they don’t pay taxes,” or “Oh, they can’t vote,” or some other arbitrary idea that requires a certain amount of rotations around our sun. No, people are people - regardless of their age. 

Yes, kids are obviously not adults, but they’re still people.  And yes, kids move slowly, they take forever to make up their minds, and they tend to not smell right.  But that sounds pretty similar to your great-grandpa.  Shall we take away his dignity too because he just doesn’t seem to “get it?” Shall we bend grandpa over our knee and give him a spanking in order for him to get in line? Let’s try this with your secretary who forgot to do their work. Try explaining to the cops, “Sir, I was merely ‘disciplining’ my wife..” – see how that goes.

No. I’m afraid this double standard is one that needs to go.  Kids aren’t just kids – kids are people, folks. Just like you; just like me. And when we have governing bodies, religious institutions and presuppositions that condone us to belittle, shame and coerce those little ruffians – well, we end up with a society that sees it perfectly fine to herd kids through institutions; institutions that inculcate kids with - you guessed it - what to think.

And we start all over.

So, let’s set aside the doublespeak; let’s be disinterested in dogma. Let’s trudge ahead advocating for the individual.  It doesn’t matter what the politics say; it doesn’t matter what democracy says. Nope. It’s not up to governments. It’s not up to adults.  It’s not even up to you. Opinions are opinions; kids are people.

And people matter.

And it just so happens
that we were all kids,
and we were all people,
and we all mattered,

long before anyone else acknowledged it.