Adultism

Adultism refers to the oppression of young people by adults. The popular saying “children should be seen and not heard” is used as a way to remind children of their place and reaffirm adults’ power in the relationship. The saying suggests that children’s voices are not as important or as valid as an adult’s, and they should remain quiet. Children are often relegated to subordinate positions due to socially constructed beliefs about what they can or cannot accomplish or what they should or should not do; this, in turn, compromises youths’ self-determination.

How might the age of a client influence your social work practice? And, when working with youth, how would you avoid conveying an adultist perspective? In this Discussion, you practice engaging with an adolescent through a scenario. You then reflect on your actions and how you would adapt if the scenario were to involve an older client.

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