1000 Flowers for the Planet - #435 Protect Childhood
Childhood is a precious thing. It doesn’t last very long and then you’re grown up and have to face the realities and pressures of life. But too many children already have to face these realities, and too many children face way more than they ever should. In the western world we look back at the Victorian period in horror and call all things dreadful ‘Dickensian’, but today our children are growing up quicker than ever, with knowledge at their fingertips and drugs available in schoolyards. Modern children have to be ‘taught’ their motor skills because they don’t learn these otherwise ‘natural’ abilities through ordinary play – they’re not allowed to play anymore in the proper sense of the word. Every minute of their day is coordinated by helicopter parents who scurry from one destination to another offering everything from baby massage for newborns to ballet lessons to sports to tutoring for better marks and everything else beyond. They’re not allowed to walk along fences, climb trees, play down at the park without supervision or do any activity alone, which is the time a child needs to learn how to take risks, what is possible or not possible, how to problem solve without an adult around and develop those essential motor skills as well a social skills. What we thought we learned from the ‘Dickensian’ period was that childhood was valuable and children needed to be allowed to play and develop naturally. We’ve taken that away from them and replaced it with 24/7 supervision.
In the developing world things are also grim, with children living in poverty having to work to help support their families and get enough food to eat. Some children are taken into child slavery or prostitution, and girls aren’t even safe to go to school without being kidnapped by militant groups. What kind of world is this for our children? Let’s commit to protecting children everywhere, allow them to be children and develop naturally so they can take on the responsibilities of adult life well prepared and ready to look after the planet for the next generation.