The Fundamentalists
Ordinary Time: A Tribute to Rowan Williams by Stanley Hauerwas

What's Happened to Childhood?

A letter in the Daily Telegraph yesterday, signed by a variety of different people (including Philip Pullman, Robert Beckford, and lots of early childhood experts) are concerned that the rise in depression and behavioural problems amongst children is linked to too much junk food, too much screen-based entertainment and school system only interested in results. All the other papers have a response today (Times, Guardian, Independent).  This is not a new issue. Most of the letters' signatories have been going on about it for years. Rowan Williams wrote about it in Lost Icons (2000). The sad thing is that not much is changing. My worry is that this will be another 2-day news story from which little will change. One of the things we decided about Lounge (Bunyan's 11-16 youth club) was to avoid have computer games nights for the reason that most young people play computer games every night. It's an interesting question and an important one for the church. Do we as churches offer an alternative? Do we encourage and challenge those who are parents to think about how they raise their children? I rarely, if ever, have heard the church I belong to say anything about parenting or childhood. I'm not suggesting we become prescriptive, who of us would claim to have all the answers, but I do believe that the church needs to create spaces where conversations can taken place. I worry when I see the poor diet some children I know have and the way television rules in a house. We need to enable children to be children. I love watching Hannah with children because although we are not yet parents, she has learnt the skills that enable children she knows and works with to wonder and question and enjoy the world in which they live.



I agree. I wonder, though, whether the government will do anything about it. At the end of the day, a depressed workforce on prozac is a lot easier to manage than an idealistic workforce in effective unions.

If we want the government to do something about it, we have to stop being in such a state of apathy that we expect them to do it for us, and instead lead the way...

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