One of the last groups that it is still legal to discriminate against in America is the youth. Most feel as if the youth are an acceptable group to discriminate against being that they are seen as less mature and less ready to take on the responsibilities of the adult world. While it is certainly true that as a whole, younger people aren't nor shouldn't be able to do certain things that older people are allowed to do. Oftentimes youth are heavily discriminated against to a point where it is harmful to the maturity of the child. The youth face personal and institutional segregation and discrimination to a point that would certainly not be acceptable towards any other group in America.
The youth in this country have just about no say in electoral politics. The most obvious example is the voting age. In the United States, the legal voting age is 18. Unfortunately the youth are significantly effected by the choices the adult population makes at the polls. Not only do the youth have to deal with the leaders that adults elect, but they also have to accept the laws of the country that they had no say in, many of which are very disenfranchising. To make it worse, at the age of 14, if a young adult chooses to work, they have to pay taxes to a government that they have no say in (taxation without representation). At the age of 16, youth can be arrested and put on trial as an adult under laws which they also had no say in.
[...] Essentially in these sates if a young adult wishes to seek an abortion and her parents are opposed she is forced to either have a baby or seek out an unsafe underground abortion. Essentially, in these states, parents own their daughters bodies until they turn 18. In many other states women under 18 must notify their parents before having an abortion. This law makes the assumption that parents know best and that there is no reason for parents to not be involved with a process like abortion. [...]
[...] We came up with 14 areas of competency- such as interpersonal skills, handling responsibility, leadership and administered tests to adults and teens in several cities around the country. We found that teens are as competent or nearly as competent as adults in all 14 areas. But when adults estimate how teens will score their estimates are drastically below what the teens actually score” (Epstein 2007). Epstein conducted this study with an open youth rights bias and his test is certainly not a perfect measure of adulthood, yet his central thesis is still backed up by this study. [...]
[...] For example, if the government declares war and instates a draft, once youth turn 18 they can be forced to fight, even if they weren't old enough to vote for (or against) the elected officials sending them to war. Even though people as young as 18 can be sent to war and forced to kill for reasons they may not agree with, they are still not allowed to buy alcoholic beverages until they are 21! In many cities youth are so discriminated against that the government legally limits the times they are allowed to be outside. [...]
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