Oppose the Criminalization of the Youth

October 30, 2019

In recent months, the daily newspapers have printed a number of news reports about the use of force by authorized adults against students in the country's mass education institutions. There was a case of violence against a little eleven-year-old girl in New Mexico in October. Use against several young boys of a chemical compound known to cause respiratory distress, peripheral nerve injury, pain, and temporary blindness was seen in another incident in October in Arizona. A taser was used on a sleeping student last month in Ohio. Another incident in which an adult threw a female youth to the ground occurred in North Carolina about a year ago. Further review of the papers turns up a plethora of these incidents.

The establishment of now commonplace police sub-stations on mass schooling premises received its impetus in the late 1990s when the U.S. Department of Justice created the “Cops in School” program to stimulate employment in school districts of regular police officers vested with powers “to make arrests, respond to calls for service, and document incidents that occur within their jurisdiction.”

Financing from the government is being used in a growing number of schools to install metal detectors, surveillance cameras, barbed wire, electronic doors and other garrison-like fortifications. Some students are even forced to use see-through lockers and/or book bags.

These events are part of the much larger capitalist program of criminalizing youth conduct.

The intensification of the permanent crisis on the economic front has gone hand in hand with the intensification of oppression and criminalization of the youth.

One task the bourgeois state regularly works to fulfill is the consolidation of the capitalist order. It directly participates in the reproduction of capitalism’s economic and social relations. Through the bipartisan political program of criminalization and attacks on the rights of the youth, the bourgeoisie is attempting to prevent the emergence of organized struggles against capital.

But of course the “trouble-making” (read: rebelliousness) of the youth is not a true problem. The real problem is that the current social system is blocking the youth and waging war against the very idea that the happiness of the youth matters.

The problem is that the capitalist system refuses to recognize and guarantee the rights which belong to the youth – their right to a modern education, their right to recreation and culture, their right to economic security, their right to seek and express the truth, their right to participate in the political affairs of society and to shape their social environment.

The view of the Workers Party is that we must all oppose the criminalization of the youth and that all of us must stand up and support the struggle to realize the rights of the youth in practice.