11 September 2007

Deja vu

"The very notion of a child is historically and culturally conditioned."
— Professor Gareth Matthews

"These days children’s books are a hell of a lot more explicit about sex, and expressive of hardcore social issues. According to Professor Nicholas Tucker, children’s books have to be grim to explain issues that parents shirk from discussing."
The Spectator

An agglomeration of childhood 'experts', plus assorted intellectuals and writers including Philip Pullman and Roger Scruton, have recycled the alarm call about 'loss of childhood' from a year ago.

So I thought I would recycle my comments on this topic from a year ago.

The papers at the moment are full of handwringing about the supposed loss of childhood. There should be a debate, cry concerned 'experts' ... Children face too much stress in the modern world; many of them are (allegedly) 'depressed'. ...
There may well be a point here, i.e. the grimness of mediocratic culture, and the insistence on 'realism' — meaning everyone has to have, from as early an age as possible, their noses rubbed in the least pleasant aspects of life. But the kind of debate being called for is unlikely to solve that particular problem. ...
While I shopped online at tesco.com this morning, their website showed a nauseating animated NSPCC ad of a paedophile saying salaciously, “I love to slip between the sheets — with my daughter”. Whichever cultural area you look at these days (art, literature, education, TV) you can’t seem to get away from people wanting to push grisly ‘reality’ in your face. What is their motivation? Methinks it's the sadistic pleasure of being able to cause discomfort, under cover of doing it for the good of society.
We boggle over why many children find modern life depressing and, instead of noting the obvious — e.g. that our society has become over-politicised and over-sexualised — we generate anguished calls for more research, a public inquiry, lots of ‘debate’. Perhaps we will end up with the recommendation that there should be even more education about grim social issues ...

It seems ironic to me that the letter's signatories — or at least the journalists commenting on the letter — see the problem as lying in the over-protection of children, rather than in over-exposure to what mediocrats have decided to regard as 'realism': education about drugs, sexual diseases, multiculturalism, alternative lifestyles, paedophiles, child abuse, how to put on condoms, etc.

Bob Reitemeier of the Children's Society writes: "Emerging evidence suggests that how to support parents in providing a stable family environment [is] among the key questions to be addressed." May I suggest that an issue of the utmost urgency in "supporting a stable family environment" is allowing children to feel they are not at risk of being forcibly separated from their parents, merely because the latter are deemed to be 'unfit' by local authority officials?

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