• Childhood •
October 12, 2005
Last week, British newspapers reported that a research study had indicated that children raised by their mothers perform better than those who spend time in daycare or other institutional settings.
October 11, 2005
October 5, 2005
Lowell Monke offers important insights in his new article published in the current edition of Orion. In “Charlotte’s Webpage: Why Children Shouldn’t Have the World at Their Fingertips,” Monke warns that children who spend a great deal of time on the computer are missing vital life lessons.
September 26, 2005
Language changes with time, and words both appear and disappear in their season. Yet, in every age, certain words function as profane language, curse words, intended for maximum offense and shock value. These days, it’s getting harder and harder to shock, as curse words fall into general use — even among the young.
Marlon Manuel of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that kids are becoming first-rate artists with curse words, even as their parents accept cursing as normal.
The daily lexicon, whether on television, stored in kids’ iPods or packed in your soccer carpool, brims with borderline expletives — words some parents find inoffensive and permissible, though others deem crass, rude and unacceptable.
Manual suggests that many very young children have adopted what he calls ‘Cussing Lite’ — a list of words that are clearly offensive, but will not get you sent home from school. Many parents seem to see this trend as an acceptable compromise.
“Vulgarity — like other things labeled out of bounds — has long held a coolness factor for kids and cultures. But when the real word is too much, the watered-down one still carries enough panache for the tween and under-10 set,” he reports.
Meanwhile, another controversy over language is forming in Scotland, where the Scottish Parent Teacher Council has argued that educatoirs often “overreact” to the use of profanity by school-age children. A school in England announced recently that it would allow children to curse up to five times per lesson without sanction — even using the worst vularities imaginable.
Consider this section from a report in The Scotsman, in which parents’ group spokesperson Eleanor Coner affirms this approach:
“I don’t think we should go round swearing all the time,” she said. “But in particular the ‘F word’ has become such a common thing in language that, yes, people should be made to think about it. But if you overreact you are less likely to be effective in stopping it.
“The school in England is using this method for 15 and 16-year-olds. If we want them to behave like adults we have to treat them like adults.
“This is similar to having a swear box in the office. It will make them think about their language without being an overreaction.”
The lunacy of this approach should be evident to all. Is the teacher to keep a list of children and their curse words of the day by frequency? Why is five the limit? What comes next, five passes on cheating, lying, hitting, and playing hooky?
Remember when parents expected the schools to require children to behave, to learn, and to obey? Well, those days are long gone. It’s enough to make you want to curse — but don’t.
September 26, 2005
A roiling controversy in Arkansas may serve to awaken many parents to the reality of what is found in many public school libraries–explicitly sexual material. This controversy centers in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Laurie Taylor, a mother of two young teenage girls, complained to the local board of education about three library books that contained explicit descriptions and depictions of sexual activity. Predictably, national library associations and anti-censorship groups quickly jumped into the fray, charging Mrs. Taylor with launching a crusade to take the Arkansas public schools back to the dark ages.
August 25, 2005
“It is nowadays very difficult for a boy to grow up with masculine honor in this society. For one thing, he is standing at the tail-end of a veritable whirlwind of anti-male sentiment that has been sweeping through the country for decades; although the force of this sentiment has somewhat let up, it has left in its wake a vast collection of moral and spiritual debris for any boy to pick his way through.” Those are the words of Midge Decter, first published several years ago.
In “What Are Little Boys Made Of?,” Decter argues that our society is opposed to the very nature of boyhood: Somewhere on the way to and from the 1960′s, something happened in America to suppress this natural condition of boys: some loss of energy, some shying away from their instinctive restlessness and competitiveness, and, with it, a fading of whatever happened to be the standards of gallantry. It is not easy to say what brought this about–our mores of child-rearing certainly had a lot, if not everything, to do with it. In the end what really matters is that the process of damping their natures–which would prove so fateful, to them and to the rest of us, during the years of the Vietnam war–was applauded by the keepers of the national ethos: the intellectuals, the educators, the clergy, and the press.
This article will make every reader think. Midge Decter is a provocative writer, and this article is certain to provoke. Christian parents will not accept every assumption or argument in the article. Nevertheless, Decter is making a serious argument that is seriously needed. Her article, first published in the December 1998 edition of Commentary, is now available at the Web site of the Catholic Educator’s Resource Center. It’s not every day that I recommend an article by a Jewish author posted on a Catholic Web site. This one deserves the recommendation.
August 25, 2005
Author Richard Louv believes that America’s children are now suffering from a syndrome he identifies as “nature-deficit disorder.” In his new book, Last Child in the Woods, Louv suggests that the current generation of American children knows the Discovery Channel better than their own backyards–and that this loss of contact with nature leads to impoverished lives and stunted imagination.
August 23, 2005
Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center took a look at the recent “Teen Choice Awards” program featured on Fox. The winners were chosen by teenagers via a poll organized by Teen People magazine. Bozell reports: “In between the incessant screaming of 13-year-old girls for every winner, presenter and commercial break came the award winners, and if this isn’t enough to send shivers down the spine of any parent, nothing will.”
The teenagers voted in droves for artists who drag the bottom of the moral landscape. Bozell treats parents to a list of the abysmally crude and sexually-explicit lyrics and messages featured by these “artists.” Not much can be reported here.
Here’s how Bozell summed up the event and its meaning: This is child pornography in reverse. Rather than raunchy imagery of innocent children being peddled to seedy adults, it is moral depravity being marketed to children by adults. Once upon a time, Hollywood had the common decency to build safe harbors around impressionable children. Today, the ground rules are reversed, and now it is that very sweet innocence that they are out to destroy.