I am a child of the 1980s, when mass incarceration just increased. A big part of this was the war on drugs, where people pretended like any form of drug use was a new invention, as opposed to something people have been doing for thousands of years. People acted as if saintly adults somehow spawned demon children. Of course this is simply a coverup for serious social issues such as inequality, racism, and the abuse of children in public schools and at home.
In my family for example, my oldest cousin was taken from his mother after she didn't want to do a shotgun marriage with the father of the child. He was raised for a few years by my grandparents. They died, and he was then raised by both an aunt and an uncle who were emotionally unstable and abusive. The uncle in his life was a wifebeater and otherwise violent man who was arrested multiple times after having accidents while driving under the influence and for acts of violence. Of course, with such a horrible family background my cousin was a criminal. Instead of getting the social services he needed, or instead of social services confronting my older relatives, who had all the mental health issues caused by poverty and racism, the criminal justice system put all the blame on someone who was a victim of lifelong abuse and neglect.
Criminalization of youth in public schools has led to what is called the school to prison pipeline. Why would Western society criminalize the young? In the 1980s social issues began to arise from rising divorce rates, out of wedlock births, and from parents always working with women being put in the workforce in large numbers. This meant that the developmental and emotional needs of children were often neglected. Instead of the society truly caring about women's and family's well being and offering support like enabling more parents to work at home or putting in maternity and paternity leaves in place, they placed all of the blame on children born in dysfunctional families on the children themselves. Children from problematic homes were considered problematic in nature. There was little to no concept of fixing the problems in these homes that caused the children to misbehave. Children were incarcerated and at times tried as adults, putting them in prison where they could be physically or sexually assaulted and emerge with even more mental health issues as after prison they were often sent back to the same homes that created those terrible conditions.
Of course, we know abused children are much more likely to engage in actual criminal behavior. So what is society's excuse for continuing the criminalization of the youth? People don't want taxes to be paid to cover the mental health treatment and social services that could prevent this? Why sacrifice masses of young people to cover up a few old billionaires who apparently just love hoarding money and who do not consider the rest of us human?
My colleagues and I, while not teenagers, were all dual citizens at the time of the pandemic. We applied for unemployment and all informed the labor departments of our locations. We were awarded money. Later on the Labor Department uniformly accused us of fraud. A number of us won our hearings. I won my hearing and finally got my money. The Labor Department appealed the NY Appeals Board, which overruled my hearing decision. I appealed to the third court, and after that my case can go to federal court, the circuit of appeals,and then the US Supreme Court. How does an unemployment claim become a constitutional crisis? Because there are no federal or state laws that address unemployment overseas, and the tax exchange agreement between states, the IBPP, was written in the 1930s and does not mention overseas. Previously, if a claimant went overseas for whatever reason the Labor Department would accuse them of fraud, and when they most likely lost at the hearing or NY appeals board level, people would drop the cases as they didn't have the resources or the knowledge to fight the Labor Department. Plus, most people would not be able to get copies of the IBPP and would automatically and blindly believe the Labor Department's reps when they claim it's illegal to get unemployment overseas. It absolutely is not.
Why do I mention these unemployment issues in the context of an article on the criminalization of the youth? Millions of Americans work overseas. We had a pandemic, and with borders closed many of us could not return to the US if we wanted to. Labor Departments decided we were criminals just for living outside of the United States when there is absolutely no law that says Americans can't live overseas or work overseas. It should be noted many Americans work either remotely or work for American companies overseas. But apparently labor departments decided Americans overseas are not American anymore, so after they awarded us this money, they decided we had to pay it back in the middle of a pandemic with people dying all around the world. We were criminalized in a very similar matter to the youth.
I'm mostly speaking in an American context. But this war against youth has affected other Western societies. Capitalism needs lots of labor, and really wants workers dedicated to the job. So children are an inconvenience, and when they don't grow up in such a way that makes it easy for them to be exploited by corporations, they are basically deemed useless and imprisoned. This discouraged families from having children, and has forced Western societies to import large numbers of young workers from other countries, and of course the cycle of criminalization continues with these young immigrants being branded "illegals" and then the right wing politicians lose their minds when the immigrants decide to be treated as human.
Of course, the pandemic is now having major effect on worldwide politics. 793, 651 people in the United States have died officially since the pandemic started from Coronavirus. This alone has major changes on voting patterns.