Earlier in the year (before I changed to wonderful WordPress), I was having a bit of a rant about childhood, and what has happened to it.
When I was very young (under 11), we played street games. Games such as “marbles”, “whip-and-top” for the girls, hop-scotch and “what time is it Mr Wolf?” amongst others. During the long summer holidays we were hardly in the house. Then as we went back to school the conkers were ready and the football season started. And of course there were always playground fights (which usually ended with the participants as friends again).
We played out until it started to get dark, and our mothers never worried about us, they were wonderful, carefree days. But what happened to them?
We have a severe, group paranoia. The Bogey-man is around every corner. Kids can’t play out, something terrible may happen to them. They can’t play conkers at school (health & safety risk – you need to wear goggles). Some schools ban all competitive games – children shouldn’t have to experience losing! A lot of playground fights are now reported to the police….why can’t teachers deal with stuff like this?
I really don’t get it. Aren’t children supposed to learn about life at school, as well as the 3 R’s? how many kids have had eye damage when playing conkers – 1000’s, millions? Isn’t it a fact that most “Bogey-men” are actually at home?
I was interested then, to read what Esther Rantzen has said recently. She has said in interviews that she now feels that she created a “politically correct monster” when founding Childline.
She thinks that we are now over-protecting children, saying that she started Childline to alert people that most child abuse happens at home. This, however has now resulted in “senseless over-protection” of children. (I have to say that I know children who are not allowed out of the house. They are escorted to and from school and then go no-where unless escorted).
Esther went on to say that the fact that some schools hold uncompetitive sports days and that teachers can’t even touch pupils (even to comfort them or apply sun cream) are examples of this.
A Grandmother here in north Wales was recently “jumped on” by staff at a local leisure centre because she was taking photos of her family playing in the pool! Esther Rantzen spoke of her Godsons school where children are not allowed to play competitive sports. Apparently the head teacher is one of those who take the view that it is morally wrong for children to experience losing.
Esther went on to say that she blames herself for a lot of this rubbish. “By revealing the extent of child abuse in the 1980’s I was part of the revolution in child protection which created these insiduous jobsworths. I had no idea the result would be senseless over-protection which pretends to see danger where there is none”.
Good for you for coming out and saying it Esther. Lets hope more people will say the same sort of things and we can start to change things. I don’t think the Government will help though. Today sees the launching of the National Curriculum for the under 5’s! Teachers are already saying this is crazy, they now have somewhere between 40 and 60 targets to achieve.
Kids deserve a childhood, it’s time we gave them one again. Leave them alone please, they can play games, they can go out, it’s not all bad out there!