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Introduction to Ephebiphobia


It isn't a surprise to many young people or adults: There are people throughout society who refuse to go near youth, to the point where they move away, lobby against, and vote against anything positively affecting young people, with the idea that those actions will keep youth away from them.


These actions may be symptoms of a social condition called ephebiphobia. Ephebiphobia is the fear of youth. In the United Kingdom ephebiphobia is also called paedophobia. This term was coined 10 years ago to capture the society-wide panic that has gripped media, politicians, and even schools. It is generally based in negative stereotypes and bad experiences from childhood, and is perpetuated by the way popular media portrays young people. 


Ephebiphobia is part of a series of age-based fear that includes

  • Pediaphobia - The fear of infants and/or young children

  • Ephebiphobia - The fear of youth

  • Gerontophobia - The fear of elders/seniors

These fears often lead to discrimination. Any discrimination based on age is called ageism; discrimination against youth specifically is called adultism.


Points to Ponder

The fear of youth is not a recent phenomenon: a cover title of Newsweek Magazine in 1954 read, "Let's Face It: Our Teenagers Are Out of Control."  However, ephebiphobia is alive more than ever right now.  In 2002, author Mike Males wrote, "Ephebiphobia... is a full-blown media panic. Images of “ordinary” teenagers besieging grown-up havens are everywhere... Today’s ephebiphobia is the latest installment of a history of bogus moral panics targeting unpopular subgroups to obscure an unsettling reality: Our worst social crisis is middle-Americans own misdirected fear."



The following resources are websites and publications that can help young people and adults challenge ephebiphobia by educating young people and adults about its effects.



Ephebiphobia discussion board - From a Canadian-specific website.



Anti-young women sentiment growing in Canada

A powerful essay assessing the nature of anti-feminism and male domination throughout Canada.

Are Youth At-Risk?

In the article a 4-H cooperative extension agent expounds on the failures of youth involvement initiatives throughout the US.

An excerpt from Mike Males' Scapegoat Generation
This book is widely regarded as the most authoritative and comprehensive research against

The New Demons: Ordinary Teens (2002) An article from the LA Times by Mike Males.
Age Bias Is Not Just for the Elderly

A History of Youth "Rebellion"

Bias: Common Sense or Discrimination?
Crimson & Gray Online Issue about Youth Discrimination


Age Discrimination Against Youth


"Detoxifying Schools." - P. Gough in Phi Delta Kappan, March 1, 2000.


"Beyond ephebiphobia: problem adults or problem youths? (Fear of adolescents)."

Kirk Astroth in Phi Delta Kappan, January 1, 1994.


No Ephebiphobia Here!

Wendy Grønnestad-Damur & L. Pratch for the Edmonton Public Library.


Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers (Youth, Family, and Culture)

By C. Clark.


Childhood is changing, but "paedophobia" makes things worse

By the Institute for Public Policy Research, 22 October 2006. Details the release of a major report studying ephebiphobia, or paedophobia, across European nations.


The Roots of Paedophobia

By Steve Waiton. This blog responds to the IPPR report, and expands by offering a unique analysis.


Paedophobia in the uncyclopedia

Offers a variety of different perspectives about the fear of youth.


Pedophobia: The Anti-Child Bias of Children's Advocacy Groups.

By Keith Axxon. This is a 1999 from the ASFAR zine.


Do It Right! Best Practices for Serving Young Adults in School and Public Libraries

By P. Jones, S. Shoemaker, & M Chelton. There is a great concern about ephebiphobia in public libraries. This book deals with that concern and offers a variety of strategies.


Gangs, Crime and Community Safety: Perceptions and Experiences in Multicultural Sydney

A study of how society and media perpetuates negative perceptions about youth and crime from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.


Measurement of the Extent of Youth Crime in Scotland

A study from the Scottish government exploring popular perceptions of youth and crime. 


Beyond Villains and Victims: Some Thoughts on Youth and Violence in Canada

A study from the Ontario Women's Justice Network that connects ephebiphobia and sexism.


Beyond Ephebiphobia: Overcoming the Fear of Middle & High School Students; A Program for Public Librarians.

A program at the Macatawa (MI) Public Library.


"Studios caught in teen-age dilemmas Multiplex issues"

An article detailing how ephebiphobia affects movie theaters from the Worcester (MA) Telegram & Gazette, July 20, 2001.


"Fear of Youth"

An article from the Seattle Weekly about how ephebiphobia manifested itself in the city's dance ordinance from February 29, 1999.


"The Politicians Fear of Youth Culture"

An article from The (London, UK) Independent, April 7, 2005.


"Lies, Damn Lies, and 'Youth Risk' Surveys"

By Mike Males. An article from Youth Today in April 2001.


For additional resources see the Wikipedia page on ephebiphobia.


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