A short page, this. Just long enough to hail Tim Gill for publishing a report that actually talks sense about children and the way we're bringing them up these days.
We've written before (here and here) about the modern obsession with protecting children from every eventuality which is spawning a race of incompetent wimps - most of whom go into the Navy, get captured by the Iranians, and cry.
Tim Gill's new book "No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk-averse Society" says that instead of creating a "nanny state" we should build a society where communities look out for each other and youngsters. The book explores several key areas, including children's play, anti-social behaviour and fear of strangers. He argues that childhood is being undermined by the growth of risk aversion and its intrusion into every aspect of children's lives. Activities that previous generations of children enjoyed without a second thought - like walking to school on their own - have been re-labelled as troubling or dangerous and the adults who permit them branded as irresponsible.
He is particularly eloquent on the subject of bullying. Not every little spat in the school playground is an instance of bullying, and quite apart from the debilitating effect on children's confidence and self-reliance, teachers are debasing the English language by using the word "bullying" to describe every argument, every piece of bad temper, every little cruelty. We have even had a child labelled "a bully" because she didn't want to be friends with another girl.
Tim Gill ought to know what he's talking about: he is an adviser to the ongoing Conservative Party Childhood Review, from 1997-2004 he was director of the Children's Play Council, and in 2002 he was seconded to Whitehall to lead the first government-sponsored review of children's play. His book is puiblished but the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, but online you can read either a summary or the whole thing.
India Knight wrote this week about current trends in pregnancy-fascism, and made this point …
There was a time when, much as children miraculously managed to play outside and do normal childhood things without getting murdered, raped or abducted, pregnant women ate what they like, drank what they liked, smoked even - and produced generations of children who grew up to be rather more capable, creative and high-achieving than today's sorry, half-illiterate lot.
I rest my case.
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