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Old 05-27-2009, 12:05 PM   #1
Very Mad Bird

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Default Britain's unhealthy relationship with it's children


By Ian Dunt

Our obsession with children's innocence is putting them in greater danger.
As far as annoying, hackneyed phrases go, 'political correctness gone mad' takes the number one slot. But every so often you come across a verifiable fact which prompts you to blurt it out, unwillingly, in the same way you yell when you stub your toe.

Health and safety regulations affecting children's playtime usually do the job. Ashburton Junior School, for instance, managed to provoke a barrel-load of Daily Mail bile when it ordered children not to play in the playground 15 minutes before class in case they get hurt last year.

Today, local government leaders have called on parents not to wrap their children up in cotton wool, in a carefully planned press campaign designed to rid the public of the idea that local councils are responsible for the layers of health and safety regulations which affect children.

It's insane and hugely depressing that we even have to talk about this. It goes without saying that children's playgrounds should have 'adventure equipment' -tree houses and zip wires and the like - without councils having to churn out proud press releases to go with them. But we do have to talk about it, and it all stems from our strange and unhealthy relationship with childhood.

As a country, we have a very weird relationship with children. We have turned them into a depository for our better nature. All children are now considered innocence and perfection rolled into one. While we - adults and young adults (now known commonly as hoodies) - are the opposite: evil-minded and untrustworthy. Obviously, adults are all potentially dangerous. But we have started to consider them as if they are innately dangerous.

For the record, children are usually not angels. They are, in fact, as cruel and manipulative as any adult. They're just cuter. Some modern psychology even sees them as far less moral than adults, their social brains having not been formed yet.

In the 19th century, a German philosopher called Ludwig Feuerbach had an interesting theory on God. He said humans have a tendency to ascribe all their best qualities - compassion, kindness, love - to God and keep all their worst qualities - selfishness, hatred - to themselves. I'm simplifying to the point of inaccuracy by the way, but Hegelian philosophers make it difficult to summarise their ideas.

It sometimes feels as if Britain has done this to its children. We have painted them in absurdly pastel colours, as perfect little angels, and begun to view adulthood as something inexplicably dark and worrying.

We have paid a high price. More than a quarter of England's primary schools now do not have a single male teacher, leaving 4,587 school staffrooms populated solely by women. People in the street are extra cautious even coming into contact with children, for fear of some mad accusation being made against them.

The journey to adulthood has become a schizophrenic, jagged road in which our little angels are turned into threatening hoodies, a sort of sub-human faceless tribe dedicated to beating up old ladies.

The UK now regularly appears at the bottom of Unicef tables for child well-being across industrialised countries.

Paradoxically, we have made our children less safe.

When we distance childhood from adulthood, when we create a sterile space in between adults and children, we dis-incentivise well-meaning strangers from looking out for children in public. We make well-meaning adults think twice before they look after children walking down the street on their own. We prompt suspicion and mistrust in communities which previously did a perfectly good job of looking after children themselves.

Paedophilia - the outrage from which all of this emanates - is, scientifically, a kind of sexuality. It's a very tragic sexuality, but a sexuality nonetheless. It's unclear whether it can be treated, for many of the same reasons we cannot turn homosexuals into heterosexuals or visa-versa, even if we wanted to. We can enforce psychological counselling, and in some cases instigate pre-emptive incarceration if we believe someone will act on their urges. In many cases - but by no means all - the sufferer will be strong enough to resist their urges.

What we cannot do - or should not do - is hand the issue over to the braying impulses of the mob. This can take the form of actual mobs, like that we saw when the News of the World irresponsibly published the names and details of convicted paedophiles in 2000, or the mob mentality of shrieking tabloid over-reactions.

These merely simplify the issue and put children's relationship with adults further into deep freeze. Parents become paranoid and that, in turn, ultimately makes children less safe.

Children are part of our culture, even if they must be protected from certain aspects of it. I'm the kind of person who generally believes Britain has much more to teach Europe than Europe has to teach us. But in this, we should take a lesson from how they go about things on the continent.

Remember your last holiday in Spain or France or Italy? How children played outside in the restaurants and cafés at 11 at night, with their parents happily drinking wine beside them? In Europe, children are part of life, not a divorce from society. New parents do not withdraw into a parallel world where no fun can be had and late nights are a thing of the past. And childhood is not treated in the naive, improbably perfect way it is treated here.

When we talk of children like angels, and turn all adults into suspects, this is what happens; insane health and safety regulations, a reduction in male teachers - with all the absence of positive male roles that entails - and an increased danger to children from sexual predators because of the overly cautious approach adults now take to the young.

The path we've walked down has taken us to a very strange place. There is a better way. We just have to get over our strange attitudes and incorporate children into society. They are not angels. They are just us, but earlier. We need to protect them. But we also need to stop losing our sanity over how perfect they are.
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Old 05-27-2009, 12:27 PM   #2
Jack Burton

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Default Re: Britain's unhealthy relationship with it's children

If you think Britain is bad you should see America. My god, political correctness gone mad. I think the British are just seeing the start of what has been going on in the USA for years. Many kids I talk to do not have recess or a playground because the school is afraid of being sued if they fall or get hurt. So there goes playtime. In some states, if you park near a school and sit there, the cops will ask you what you're doing and if you are waiting on a kid. If you're not, then you are instantly up to no good. Because you parked near a school (not in a school ground). You are possibly a child molester and/or kidnapper or worse.

From my observations, media plays a big part in it, instilling fear in a nation that already has their fair share and, enought o last them a generation of lifetimes. All these stories of incidents that do indeed happen, but statistically are considered rarities, will make parents go into overprotection overdrive. To the point where kids are viewed as being made of glass. In the meantime, alot more has been lost than gained.
Still I feel like a child when I look at the moon, maybe I grew up a little too soon...
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Old 05-27-2009, 04:49 PM   #3

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Default Re: Britain's unhealthy relationship with it's children

A Clockwork Orange..... a futuristic nanny state gone mad. Or is the future now?
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

Iraq and Afghan fatalities: 6,855 and counting. Silence IS consent.
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:26 PM   #4
Calaethis Dragonsbane
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Default Re: Britain's unhealthy relationship with it's children

...And your suggestions to a solution to this problem would be what exactly, Yorick? Since you drew attention to this article - and I'm not denying that there aren't issues - it would be nice to see your thoughts on it, rather than just slamming an article down and saying nothing .

Personally, I feel we ought to backtrack a few decades and instil disciple - not abuse - in our young, and ban political correctness as it currently is. Not the concept of showing respect, but the way it has become so far out of hand. That, at least, would be a start.
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There are none so blind as those who refuse to see, none so deaf as those who refuse to hear, and none so smelly as those who refuse to bathe.
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Old 05-28-2009, 07:52 AM   #5
Variol (Farseer) Elmwood
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Default Re: Britain's unhealthy relationship with it's children

I don't think he needs to provide an opinion.
I did the same thing with the debt clock link. I have no opinion on it. It just is what it is.
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Old 06-02-2009, 02:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Britain's unhealthy relationship with it's children

Ahhh... the days of old, when you were allowed to play, injure yourself, suck it up, and keep on going. Or decide that enough was enough, play the Mom card, and trade the blood for an afternoon of being taken care of.

It goes too far, but not enough. I don't tell my kids not to do too many things (although they might disagree)... I *do* try to get them to recognize the likely outcomes of their actions and decide whether they want to live with those or not...

For the record, there are still plenty of schools in America where the kids have recess, play around outside, and get into trouble in new ways that are old at the same time. I have seen the equipment be updated to try to remove potentially fatal issues.

Now if you'll excuse me, once I finish resurrecting old threads, I'm going to head out to our new trampoline, with enclosure. The kids are fine on it, but I'm fairly certain there's a broken neck in my future there... gonna have to try to find it
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:58 AM   #7
Very Mad Bird

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Thumbs Up Re: Britain's unhealthy relationship with it's children

Originally Posted by Variol (Farseer) Elmwood View Post
I don't think he needs to provide an opinion.
I did the same thing with the debt clock link. I have no opinion on it. It just is what it is.
Exactly. I haven't yet formed an opinion. I found the article interesting.
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Old 06-09-2009, 07:11 AM   #8
Symbol of Cyric

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Default Re: Britain's unhealthy relationship with it's children

Originally Posted by Yorick View Post
Exactly. I haven't yet formed an opinion. I found the article interesting.
What it is is nothing. One man's opinion devoid of factual evidence.

Here's another "interesting article"] by the same man!

Ian Dunt: Atheism under attack

Atheists are having a tough time of it. So tough, in fact, that they've started banding together. Today, the not-so-snappily titled National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Students forms in central London, partly due to the hostility from campus faith groups that individual societies face when setting up. Why has it come to this?

About 200 years ago, most of the progressive men of Europe presumed religion would be dead by now. The enlightenment philosophers thought the triumph of science and reason would turn men away from God. Sometimes in Britain - arguably the least religious society in the west - it feels that way. But the reality is very different.

A few years ago, another educated man called Samuel P Huntington proposed an altogether different theory, neatly summarised as the 'clash of civilisations'. He posited that the main source of conflict would centre around a handful of distinct cultures, with the primary fault line being Islam and the west.

It was hopelessly reductionist, but it had the enviable quality of chiming perfectly with its time. Shortly afterwards, planes were flying into the Twin Towers in New York and the rest is history. Right now, religion is one of the most - if not the most - important issue in world politics.
In a global political system defined by the clash, atheists have discovered something curious. Religious people hate them very much, and they have organised against them with alarming speed and efficiency. Perhaps it gives Muslims and Christians living in western societies something to unite around. Regardless; the political momentum is on their side.
Recently, the UN's rapporteur on human rights, who is tasked with protecting freedom of speech, had his job description altered. The council agreed to a Pakistani request for the rapporteur to also tackle "abuses of free expression", including, rather shockingly, "defamation" of religions and prophets.

In the UK, religious protections have grown in a subtler manner. Tony Blair consistently rejected calls to discuss his deeply-held faith, but this was not evident in his policy making. Faith schools were not just tolerated, but encouraged. An attempt was made to outlaw 'religious hatred', including abuse or insult, although the Lords managed to water it down after an eye-catching rearguard defence by a motley collection of secularists, comedians, and free-thinkers.
Across the western world, religion has been elevated to a unique and entirely unhelpful position - a position which ringfences it against criticism or questioning. The only other qualities in this category are things like race, sexuality and gender. But these are qualitatively different. They cannot be changed. A black man does not choose to be so, nor does a homosexual. Religion is about conviction and belief. Its advocates call it faith and that is indeed a decent description of belief that does not follow from reason or evidence. But it does not somehow entitle it to preferential treatment.

The thought process that drove us to this undesirable state of affairs hinges on the word 'freedom', which is itself massively unhelpful. Freedom in and of itself does not mean anything. Its only meaning derives from the words that follow it. Freedom to worship? Quite right. Freedom to hurt people in the street? Absolutely not. But many religious groups have framed the freedom to not have faith challenged as part of the freedom of worship. They have argued that criticism is an infringement of their right to be believers. It is not. It is merely the price one pays to live in a free country. It is unacceptable for atheist groups to be prevented from forming in universities because faith groups deride them as negative. It is unacceptable that atheist posters and banners are defaced when we would react with outrage if Christian or Muslim posters were treated in such a way. These are real world examples given to me by atheist activists. They have every right to pursue their agenda as they see fit. Prejudice against atheists is as bad as prejudice against anyone else.

Last edited by Lanesra; 06-09-2009 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 06-09-2009, 07:57 AM   #9
Wolf Rider2

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Default Re: Britain's unhealthy relationship with it's children

Gaah, even atheism is becoming a religion! Why is there always so much fuss? Two things the world is destroying: children and religion. Oh, and health.
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