Saturday, February 24, 2007

The lesser mud splattered child

The Grauniad has commissioned a survey on the state of childhood in Britain today. The results are a bit of a 'dog bites man' story. You may not be surprised to discover that parents don't expect that their sunny faced little angel is going at it like a rabbit with occasional breaks for a spliff.

LibertyCat's dissection of the UNICEF report found that 'behaviours and risks' (basically smoking, drinking and shagging) were the only area in which Britain was 'worse' than the other surveyed countries. I've placed 'worse' in inverted commas since it's not clear to me that having lots of sex is bad for the well-being of your average 15-year old.

I've been reading reports by Demos discussing the privatisation of public space (think Bluewater and hoodies) and the tendency for adults to supervise and micromanage children's activities. I can't help but wonder if there's a connection between these things - micromanaged children and rebellious teens. This article certainly seems to think so:
At the Hoek van Holland school, children can wear what they want and they say this is why they are happier... The children believe it is this tolerance that stops them pushing too many boundaries. They say they are treated like adults and are allowed to grow in their less rigid environment... "In Holland, we are much more free," explains Menou, who has a friend in Farnham. "In England, you have uniforms and we get to do more things with clothes and make-up and express ourselves."
Perhaps we should just take the old-fashioned approach - releasing our small people into the muddy wilds armed with wellies and a stick.



  • At 10:46 am , Blogger Tristan said...

    Jonathan Calder has written some interesting things on this and speaks a lot of sense.
    His article in the liberator book published at last conference is very good.


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