Thursday August 27, 2015
Youth in America are no longer seen as a social investment but a liability. A soft war ensures they are carpet-bombed with consumer culture. A hard war of zero tolerance in schools creates "punishment creep" in the courts. Drawing on his book, Disposable Youth, scholar Henry Giroux speaks at the Spur lecture in Toronto about how America is abandoning its youth.
**This episode originally aired April 17, 2015
Some believe a culture of cruelty pervades America these days. The United States is the only country in the world that sentences children to life in prison without parole. In his March 2015 report, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez wrote:
"There is widespread agreement among experts that the institutionalization of children contributes to physical underdevelopment, abnormalities in brain development, reduced intellectual abilities and development, delays in speech and language development, and diminished social skills."
The Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest at McMaster University, Henry Giroux, says this punitive attitude is one component of a "hard war" that disproportionately affects poor white and minority youth.
His research tells us that over a three-year period in America, 200 children were hit with stun guns, or tasers. Five of them died. Zero tolerance policies have encouraged police harassment, school suspensions and arrests. Professor Giroux calls this development "punishment creep".
In his books, Disposable Youth and The Violence of Organized Forgetting, Henry Giroux also explores what he calls the "soft war" on youth -- a campaign where digital space is so corporatized that it de-politicizes the young. Massive student debt has financially incarcerated them while their unemployment rate surges. What's to be done? This episode of Ideas explores that question using excerpts from a talk he gave as part of the Spur series, and from an interview with host, Paul Kennedy.
Disposable Youth, by Henry Giroux, Routledge, New York, 2012.
Youth in a Suspect Society, by Henry Giroux, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2009.
The Violence of Organized Forgetting, by Henry Giroux, City Lights, San Francisco, 2014
Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future, Paradigm Publishers, Boulder, Colorado, 2013.