Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A good kicking

On Saturday 30 October Matthew Fort published an article in the Guardian suggesting some alternative packed lunches for children to take to school.

The following Saturday someone wrote in response. I can't find the letter on the paper's website, and my copy is being recycled by Harborough District Council even as you read this. But, if I recall correctly, it said: "Anyone who brought mushroom risotto to my kids' school would be given a good kicking."

Today the Guardian carries an account of a new report from Barnardo's:
Peer pressure and the threat of bullying are prompting school children to choose highly processed snacks and fast foods over healthy options, a survey of pupils from nursery to secondary school has found.
It goes on to say:
Researchers also discovered that children presented with a picture of a healthy lunch of sandwich, raw carrot, tomato, milk and apple found it impossible to imagine anyone their age choosing to eat the meal. Youngsters suggested it might be eaten by a "posh, sporty girl" who was a "goody-goody teacher's pet" and lived in a big house in London.
All very depressing.

There is nothing new in children being cruel to one another or having immature attitudes. What is new, I think, is the willingness of many adults to indulge these failings or even to exhibit them themselves.

If you think about it for a moment, the letter the Guardian published was appalling. It condones the violent bullying of children for being different from the crowd. It is bad enough that an adult should think of writing it: it is far worse that there was no one at the paper who thought better of publishing it. But its attitude is typical of increasing numbers of middle-class parents who exhibit a sort of embarrassed glee at the awful behaviour of their own children.

As I may well have said on this blog before, I suspect that our current enthusiasm for children's rights arises more from a lack of confidence in ourselves as adults than from any real concern for children.

I have certainly discussed "poshness" before - here and here. But I remain puzzled that young people living in what we are told is an increasingly classless society now seem obsessed with the concept and to regard it as just about the worst sin going.

No comments: