The Politicization of Childhood

May 17, 2021 Updated: May 19, 2021

Commentary

To live in the modern age is to be bombarded with tragedy, conflict, and political strife. Childhood is the only period in which one is free not to concern oneself with the complexities of the world. But, in today’s day and age, childhood is being politicized—and children are worse off for it.

Politics have seeped into the education system nationwide. Activist educators have sown divisive rhetoric into curricula, confusing and dividing children in the process. The rise of critical race theory, for example, is teaching our children that their immutable characteristics are paramount, thus eroding common humanity at its source.

Educators have usurped the role of moral authority. Activist teachers have assumed responsibility for the political activation of their pupils, implanting their own beliefs into children’s heads and, in the process, robbing each child of autonomy and the freedom to arrive at his or her own conclusions.

Children today are faced with mounting pressure to prematurely adopt a political persona and have watched as language policing and political correctness have gone awry in the broader culture. It, therefore, should be no surprise that the phenomenon of cancel culture is creeping into younger and younger age demographics.

Though childhood is meant to be fraught with mistakes and self-discovery, today’s children have been taught to police one another’s language. They have grown up in a zero-tolerance world and are rendered to operate like little politicians, taking care not to step out of line. Our graceless society, therefore, has sown self-censorship and self-doubt into its youngest.

But the politicization of childhood isn’t just coming from educational and social spheres—suddenly their modes of entertainment are also pushing an agenda. Today’s children are confronted with activist books and television shows that are infused with divisive messages. Kids are being robbed of innocence on all fronts when even Sunday cartoons aren’t politically neutral.

As a member of Generation Z, I have watched the creep of politics into childhood, though I’ve only been politically aware for a short number of years. Though my childhood was not so long ago, it looked entirely different. I was not bombarded with political messaging on all fronts.

School was school, cartoons were cartoons, and if I made a mistake or said something out of line, it was a growing experience, not grounds for cancellation. I’m a member of the last sub-generation of kids allowed enough freedom to come into our own morally, philosophically, and politically—a luxury sadly not afforded to those even just a few years younger.

Parents, teachers, and administrators around the nation are finally taking a stand against the politicization of childhood—in fact, just last week, parents in Loudon County, Virginia, made headlines for the ad they took out fighting back against critical race theory in their local school system. We have a moral obligation as a nation to stand behind such efforts to let kids be kids.

Politics have no place in childhood. Education should serve to inform students, not to activate them. Cartoons and books should be outlets for relaxation, not modes of indoctrination. We must teach our children how to think, not what to think. But, most importantly, we must preserve and defend a generation’s right to a brief period of innocence before they inherit a tumultuous world.

Rikki Schlott is a writer and student based in New York City. As a young free speech activist, her writing chronicles the rise of illiberalism from a Generation Z perspective. Schlott also works for The Megyn Kelly Show and has been published by The Daily Wire and The Conservative Review.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.