Perversion of childhood a growing threat
Originally posted by Peter Inson at 11:10, March 7 2013
The Times headline, “You Stop being a child at 12….” (6.3.2013 News p. 4) addresses appearances rather than realities. People of any age who allowed themselves to be directed in their lives in the ways described, concerned to meet others’ expectations rather than their own, could hardly be considered grown up or mature.
What some parents see as the loss of their children is in fact their being kidnapped by others who are not accountable for their activities with children and young people in the way that teachers and parents are, among others. This should be no surprise; fifteen years ago I listened to an interview on BBC Radio in which the marketing executive of a company that made clothes for eight year-old girls explained that children’s pester-power was very much a consideration in the way their products were marketed. For her pester-power meant increased earnings; for most parents pester-power encouraged by marketing ploys is likely to add to the difficulties of that most important role, parenting.
It suits those who wish to sell things to enrol young people on their side; they are more easily gulled and duped. In order to do this, young people have to be encouraged to see themselves as independent choosers of goods, services and lifestyles when, the truth is, most of them could not sustain any so-called independence without backers, usually parents, busier these days, and more likely to yield when harassed.
All this in a year when the school-leaving age effectively reaches eighteen. We adults are confused and dishonest with young people and connive in this betrayl of them. If they are grown-up at twelve we should tell them so and leave them to find out for themselves how they are to live. If they are not, and their use of their time is to be proscribed by a requirement to attend school or college, then we should urgently seek ways of curbing if not banning advertising directed at children and young people.
And in any case, in a free market, what grounds are there for promoting anything?
The following day Alice Thopson writes about parents’ responsibilities in the face of omnipresent porn.
In a sense this follows yesterday’s piece – Rosemary Bennett’s – “You stop being a child at 12 say mothers.” Pornography is simply the next item in the armoury of those who want to pervert children’s natural desire to go beyond and, if necessary thwart the authority of parents in order to discover the confidence which comes with making one’s own decisions and standing by them. This how we grow up and persuade ourselves that we are growing up. With caring parents, and others, teachers, family members, it is a time for making small mistakes and learning lessons so that big mistakes are less likely later on.
If we believe that children and adolescents need our protection from themselves during this time, on a sliding scale, how much more do they need protection from others who see them as objects upon which to prey, rather than part of ourselves for whose existence we parents are uniquely responsible and for whom only we can be called to account?