Childhood apparently ends at age eleven, or so the media are telling us today. I wonder though if anyone pondered to think of the link between age eleven and this also being the year children go to secondary school school ?
When I was training to be a teacher in Northamptonshire a few years ago they still had a Middle School system which took children in years 5, 6, 7 & 8 (aged nine to thirteen). Teachers repeatedly told me at these schools that they seemed to be able to keep the children "as children" for a couple of extra years bu having this system which has been now abolished. But in reality, it is the mixing with old children that makes children less and less child like.
The pressures now on children to have sex, particularly girls, is enormous. I have known of twelve year old girls being pressurised by teenage boys(Aged 14-18) for sex, yet nobody in government treats the issue as a serious one. If this were happening in some Arab country we'd have people up in arms complaining about Islam and claiming our moral superiority, but this is happening over here, amongst a supposedly Christian population, and it is simply ignored.
The fact that stories appear like the one I saw today where a man aged 21 with no job, no prospects of getting one (so it appears), has now fathered seven children by seven different mothers says it all about our society. We talk about issues affecting childhood but never act.
Some people blame computer games or music, but these are not the problem. The problem is a social breakdown in family life, a sense that children feel they must be having sex, a sense that because there is "nothing to do", you can take drugs, get drunk and act violently, and you have ready made excuse.
It is going to take a big person, a Prime Minister with real guts to tackle these issues if they are ever to be solved. But the problem for children as that on so many issues, it is impossible to get the genie back in the bottle, and at the heart of the matter is the fact that some parents just don't care.
Do I have a solution, hell no, but I know that simply waving around ASBO's isn't going to help and expecting children to act like kids when so many of the adult things they do are excused because of a lack of police, a lack of parental guidance and a lack of political will (and money) means that children are being given the thumbs up to carry on simply means that nothing is going to change soon.