Dictatorship Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Debra Patuto

Debra has taught at elementary levels and has an M.ed with certification in elementary education and special education

Within this lesson on dictatorship, you will learn about the government system and how it has changed over the centuries. We'll explore the role of the dictator and also explore the role of citizens within a dictatorship.

That Isn't Fair!

Imagine one day you get to school, only to be told that boys are not allowed to be educated any longer. Or imagine that you're a certain religion and told that you can't practice your religion any longer. If you tried to speak up about these issues, you would be sent to jail or executed (sentenced to death). Yikes!

Human Rights
human rights

The examples above, of basic human rights being taken away, seem drastic and unfair to many of us. But for the people who have lived or are currently living under a dictatorship, these examples are real and, sadly, very mild in comparison to more harsh things that have been done and continue to be done to citizens.

Let's explore dictatorship a bit further.

What is a Dictatorship?

A dictatorship is a form of government in which there is one person or a small group of people who possess full control and power with no limits. Their leadership is usually supported by their military, and those who do not follow their rules and beliefs could be sentenced to jail or executed.

The History of Dictatorship

Dictatorship didn't start off as a bad thing. During the Roman Empire, a dictator would come in when there was a crisis, typically military, that needed to be taken care of. The dictator would be given extreme power to help solve the immediate crisis.

Unfortunately, throughout world history, leaders took this form of dictatorship and used it to take power and control in very cruel ways. For example, Adolf Hitler of Germany is known for having 6 million Jewish people sent to concentration camps and killed during World War II.

Dictator Adolf Hitler of Germany

Taking Control and Staying In Control

Cheating is a common trait of a dictator. How do they cheat? It's common for dictators to be ''voted'' into their position. They oftentimes hold fake elections so that the world will think that they are having a fair election. The problem is that citizens are forced to vote for the dictator due to fear that they could be punished if they voted for anyone else.

When dictators take control, they often call themselves president or prime minister and change the entire political system that has been in place. To maintain control, dictators use terror and intimidation to keep citizens from standing up against them. They will raise taxes, change laws, and oftentimes take everyday human rights away from citizens.

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