Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Syrian Disaster and Children

Syria is the longest and most violent of the revolutions. Assad’s troops killed over 5,000 generally Sunni Syrians by the end of 2011, despite protests and observers sent by the Arab League and economic sanctions by the US and European nations. By early 2014 the number killed doubled and 100,000 were displaced from their homes. Three million Syrian children were displaced form their homes, a “lost generation” many of whom don’t go to school and must labor to help their families survive in exile. Civil war ensued, with Alawite Muslims and some Christians backing the Alawite dictator, fearful of being persecuted by a Sunni takeover. Whereas Quadafi in Liberia said he was killing rats, Assad said his killings of his people were like a surgeon who has to shed blood to save the patient—over 100,000 by 2013. Comedian Bill Marr pointed out Assad looks like a car salesman in his crisp suits but he’s a butcher.


The UN reported that an average of 5,000 Syrians were killed each month of the uprising and eight million refugees left the country or their homes, nearly half of the Syrian—including more than one million children, over half without schools creating a “lost generation.” Frontline produced a video about five of those children growing up with death all around them.[i] See a short documentary about the struggle.[ii] Many of those who have schools nearby drop out because their families need them to work or they’re too traumatized. A 12-year-old girl quoted by Oxfam, Reema wrote, “I had so many dreams. None of them will come true. All I want is to live in my country in freedom. Syria, my beloved country, I love you.” Over 11,000 children younger than 17 were killed by the end of 2013, according to UNICEF. Children were tortured, sexually abused, used as soldiers, and killed, at first mostly by government forces and then by rebel groups as well. The opposition was taken over by foreign jihadists. Over 150,000 Syrians were killed, about half were refugees, they suffer from starvation in blocaded areas, polio returned, and the government dropped barrel bombs and chemical warfare on civilians.


What I Learned About Global Youth after A Decade of Research

What I Learned About Global Youth after A Decade of Research

One ah ha moment was that realization that ageism is at play in academic circles. After most of the academics who read drafts of the book said many books were written about youth activism and cited books that didn’t focus on youth at all, I realized that a blind spot or bias was at play. This phenomenon is the same as sexism that kept scholars of both sexes from focusing on women’s contributions, until feminists pointed it out in the second wave of the woman’s movement. I wrote my dissertation on the religious ideas of the 19th century novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her novels clearly focus on the saving grace of virtuous women but no one had discussed due to the sexist blind spot. Even books describing the bias against young people don’t include their actual voices, just like history books included few women’s or people of color’s voices.

Some developmentalists disagree with generational scholars who think there are distinctive differences shaped by different historical events. It’s true that all adolescents face the task of shaping their adult identity and values, but young people shaped by access to ICT are different than previous generations. For example, Baby Boomers said don’t trust people over 30, while Gen Y and Gen Z value their parents because they are cynical about other authorities, political and religious. They have access to news about scandals concerning politicians and religious leaders, transferring respect for elders to ones they know. Youth are also more egalitarian than previous generations, raised on media coverage of successful women and people of color. Marshall Mckuan is correct that the characteristics of the media we imbibe influence us as well as the information it conveys. Not only does the speed of communication make them impatient with old ways of doing things, but it connects them to each other in a global youth support group for change.

A surprise for me was how similar media-connected educated are globally. We could construct a profile of a young person in any urban area wearing jeans and T-shirt, listening to hip-hop on headphones, texting on smart phone, disgusted with local authorities, informed about global problems. They’re created “glocal” or hybrid cultures, such as hip-hop songs in local languages and youth slang combining various languages and abbreviations. In contrast, young people in rural areas in developing countries where over 80% of youth live are raised more traditionally, often poorly educated and not aware of global issues. I’m thinking of children I interviewed in rural Indonesia and Pakistan who don’t know about climate change. If Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg succeeds in his goal to provide Internet access to everyone, rural areas will have access to global information sources that provide the foundation for changemakers.

Regional differences do occur, of course. Thinking of repeated phrases used by activists specific to regions:

MENA and other Islamic countries: Allahu Akbar (God is Great), and Insha’ Allah (God willing), indicating the region with the most focus on religion.

North America: “We’re the 99%,” indicating the focus on economic inequality.

Europe: “it’s the system,” an attack on neoliberal capitalism.

Latin America: Horizontallsm and we’re creating a new human in a new society.

Russia: Putin is a tiger. (A positive for some, a negative for activists.)

China: Human rights

Africa: African solutions for African problems.


We all know that our main problem is our planet is in jeopardy because of “climate weirdness” and the increasing carbon and methane emissions. A UN survey reported that young people didn’t make the connection that their lifestyle has to change in order to save the planet. This means not using fossil fuels and not eating meat that’s responsible for 70% of agricultural emissions and over a third of methane gases. We’ve seen that educated SpeakOut youth are altruistic and informed. Will they be able to transform the revolution of rising expectations to consuming less and acting locally? Please email to share your observations about how Gen Y and Z will shape our future.

A Global Youth Profile?

A surprise for me researching my book on global youth was how similar media-connected educated are globally. We could construct a profile of a young person in any urban area wearing jeans and T-shirt, listening to hip-hop on headphones, texting on smart phone, disgusted with local authorities. Agree or disagree? What would you add?

Literacy program in NW Pakistan

Open Doors Literacy Project

Please receive a tax-deduction for supporting literacy. Only one-third of Pakistani young people are in primary school, so extremist Muslim Madrassas provide an affordable alternative for some boys, but not girls of course. Pakistan in second- to-last place in worldwide rankings of gender equality, according the to Global Gender Gap Report 2012. ODLP has no administrative costs. All funding goes to supplies and teacher Hassan’s expenses. He’s a university student in Peshawar who teaches in rural villages.


Please see the ODLP website for photos of our students.

A KZFR radio interview is available, conducted when Hassan was teaching his eleventh literacy group.[i]


Please make out check to Annie B’s, ODLP or donate online Mail checks to North Valley Community Foundation, 3120 Cohasset Rd, Suite 8. Chico, CA 95973.


Gayle Kimball Vita

Gayle Kimball Vita



* BA, UC Berkley, History

* Teaching credential, UCB

* MA, UCLA, History

* MA, UCSB, Religious Studies

* Ph.D., UCSB, Religious Studies



* LA City Schools, World and US History teacher

* CSU, Chico, Professor of Women’s Studies and Sociology. Taught “Women    Internationally.”



50/50 Parenting (Lexington Books)

50/50 Marriage (Beacon Press)

ed. Women’s Culture (Scarecrow Press)

ed. Women’s Culture Revisited. (Scarecrow Press)

21st Century Families: Blueprints for Family-Friendly Workplaces,

Schools and Governments. (Equality Press)

How to Create Your Ideal Workplace (Equality Press)

The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide (Equality Press)

Ed. Everything You Need to Know to Succeed After College (Equality


 How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce (Equality Press)


Media Appearances

* ABC National News

* Geraldo

* Hour Magazine

* Late Night America

* The Michael Jackson radio show

* Regional TV and radio shows (i.e. Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Denver)


Social Media Platforms

*Global youth website:

*Photos of global youth and their homes:

*Video interviews with global youth on two YouTube channels:

*Twitter: #gaylehkimball