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Children's Voices in Politics


Michael S. Cummings

Is the official political silencing of children in a democracy rational and just, or is it arbitrary and capricious? How might democratic polities benefit from the political engagement and activism of young people? Michael Cummings argues that allowing children equal political rights with adults is required by the basic logic of democracy and can help strengthen the weak democracies of the twenty-first century. A good start is for governments to honor their obligations under the ambivalently utopian UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children’s political views differ from those of adults on issues such as race, sex, militarism, poverty, education, gun violence, and climate change. Young activists are now sparking change in many locations around the globe.

Preface: Teach Your Parents Well

Introduction: The Death and Life of Democracy in the Twenty-First Century 

Chapter 1 Children’s Right to Utopia and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Chapter 2 The Construction of Childhood in Political Philosophy, History, and Culture

Chapter 3 Youth as Scientists, Innovators, and Leaders

Chapter 4 The Bane of Ma/Paternalism

Chapter 5 The Boon of Ma/Paternalism

Chapter 6 Children’s Political Beliefs

Chapter 7 Embers of Empowerment in Contemporary Youth Activism

Chapter 8 Leading Scholarship on Children’s Activism, 1990–2019

Chapter 9 The Logic of Democratic and Aristocratic Theory

Chapter 10 Children to the Rescue at the Polls, in the Streets, in Office

Chapter 11 Many Paths to Empowerment

Conclusion: Youthquake