Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Good Childhood Inquiry

The Children's Society has launched an inquiry into the state of childhood. Its Chief Executive, Bob Reitemeier, writing in the Telegraph today points asks:

How is it that in the United Kingdom we are wealthier than ever before yet have failed to translate material gain into a better life for all our children? As has been reported, research into children's wellbeing published last month put the United Kingdom close to the bottom of a table of 25 European countries. Only the Slovak Republic and the Baltic states fared worse. What good is wealth if it doesn't make us happier?

...The confusion surrounding childhood is a result of the contradictions and uncertainty that we demonstrate in our relations with children. On the one hand, we see children and young people as vulnerable and in need of protection. On the other, we see them as a threat to society.

That, in a nutshell, is why we concern ourselves with children's civil rights. Children suffer the same kind of madonna/whore projection of which feminists complain - although in this case it's more of a cherub/demon split. What it indicates is an inability to see children as ordinary human beings of average virtue, but until children are recognised as individuals with human rights to exist, occupy space and express opinions - rather than as a management problem or the repository of adult fantasy or benevolence - it's hard to see how things will get better.

There's an opportunity to put in your own three ha'porth online at the Good Childhood Inquiry website.

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