Ephebiphobia

Dear Mr Schembri,

My friend Jellyfish has just sent me a rather irate email containing a link to your latest offering in The Age.

In response to your '10 key reasons why children should not be allowed in cinemas', I would like to alert you of '1 really key reason why Jim Schembri should not be allowed in print'.

The other day, David Levithan said that homophobia was the last acceptable prejudice. He was wrong. There is another one, and it is ephebiphobia. The fear of young people. (or pedophobia, the fear of children and babies).

Do you think if Jim Schembri had written an article on 10 reasons why we shouldn't let WOMEN or JEWS or BLACK PEOPLE into cinemas, it would have been published?

Why does our society see young people as some kind of lesser species?

Apart from all of the absolute bollocks you see in the media about "teens running wild" and all of the head-shaking and 'in my day'-ing that goes on today, have a think about these 10 things:

1. children as young as 12 can be tried for crimes as adults

2. children can't vote, as they are cited to have a lower level of reasoning. But adults don't have to prove any level of reasoning to vote.

3. the 'lower level of reasoning' line was also used to prevent people with different coloured skins and vaginas from voting up until the 20th century.

4. Senile people have a say in how their country is run. Alcholics and psychotics and murderers and rapists have a say in how their country is run. Not young people.

5. children are forced to attend underfunded schools, have little or no access to free health care, and will have to grow up coping with catastrophic global warming, but have no voice to protest or bring about change.

6. they also have to pay taxes AND superannuation, if they are earning money (not to mention the fucking GST), but with no legal say in how those funds are managed.

7. in the US, poverty among young people exceeds all other age groups, yet the government spends 10 times more on each poor senior than each poor child.

8. you can be a Christian and a child. A Muslim and a child. You can be gay. You can be disabled. You can be poor. You can be homeless. But you're not allowed to have an opinion. (or, if Jim Schembri has his way, go to the fucking cinema)

9. many people in Positions of Influence seem to think that young people should constantly be educated - that books must be either Classics or about Real Issues (see the YA winner of the WA Premier's Award for a recent and tooth-grinding example), television should only be documentaries, and computers are just plain evil.

10. I'll stop ranting now and quote Goosebumps author RL Stine: I believe that kids as well as adults are entitled to books of no socially redeeming value.

Stop picking on the young people. Or at least give them an opportunity to respond.

(With thanks to the NYRA and this episode of the West Wing.)