You can't put the genie back in the bottle

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.


asquith said...

Sorry Nich, you made a typo.

"It is going to take a big person, a Prime Minister with real gits to tackle these issues if they are ever to be solved".

I'm sure there are some real gits surrounding David Camoron. But I don't think that's what you were trying to say ;)

The statist, authoritarian solution is almost certainly the wrong one. Improved prospects, economic regeneration and the presence of strong role models (among other things, male primary school teachers) would improve matters. I don't condemn people from poor backgrounds like the sneering, braying bloggertarians do. I think it can all be turned around.

Anonymous said...

I remember when my daughter was growing up. When she got to around 12 she wanted to start wearing makeup and clothes that, in my opinion, would be more fitting on a 'sex worker' than a child. The pressures on parents is enormous. I believe teen magazines and clothes shops musttake some of the responsibility for the blame. As should the school system. Such is the current level of testing in our schools we seem to be stealing our childrens childhood.

Jock Coats said...

Taking the middle school thing a little further, not long after I left my school it experienced quite a drop in numbers - as did many boarding schools in the late eighties/early nineties. Part of this was put down to the whole ethos that everyone (in their case from 13 to 18) were physically sharing the same spaces - with the boarding house system resulting in those 18 year olds wielding considerable power and influence over the 13 year olds, and even the 15/16 year old O level kids (I was reminded only the other day by a former inmate of that children's home in Jersey about some sadistic sixth formers throwing darts at us third formers).

As part of turning their fortunes around they began to take more people at 11 (because boarding prep school had also fallen largely out of favour) and quite rigourously segregating horizontally in age bands; 11-13, 14-16 and 17 & 18 year olds. Rather than being billetted altogether in houses were acommodated in those year groups and houses became a thing for sports days and the refectory and chapel arrangements.

More recently I heard about a couple of Catholic private schools that merged in Kent or Sussex or somewhere - a convent school and a boys school. They decided to go co-ed from 11-13, then single sex from 14-16 and then co-ed again in the sixth form. That also seemed to work.

Anonymous said...

It all comes down to the family. ASBOs, literacy, under-age drinking - everything revolves around the breakdown in the family as the basic unit of society. I'm glad to see the Conservatives looking into this but I don't hear any of the main parties putting forward a serious and wide-ranging plan to put families back on the political map.

Jock Coats said...

When they propose Land Value Tax to reduce by half what mum and dad have to pay for the family home, and increase the amount dad brings home in his pay packet because he won't be paying income tax or NI, and they can afford for mum to be home all the time the kids are not in school (or vice versa of course these days), then I'll believe they are taking it seriously!