An intermittently Liberal anthology compiled by Jonathan Calder

Monday, April 07, 2003  

The denial of resilience
Today we find it difficult to accept the fact that youngsters possess a formidable capacity for resilience. Paranoid parenting is continually fulled by the belief that unless adults continually protect their infants, they will become damaged beyond repair.

Hilary Clinton's folksy book on child-rearing, It Takes a Village, begins with the sentence "Children are not rugged individualists." This statement on contemporary childhood - backed up by citations from well-known fashionable child experts - elevates vulnerability as its defining condition.

The key concept through which this sense of vulnerability is given definition is that of children at risk. "Children at risk" is an expression that we think we understand intuitively even though it is rarely defined. When reporters allude to a child at risk we rarely ask the obvious question, "at risk of what?" Just being "at risk" is sufficient to evoke a sense of pemanent danger.

We don't ask the question "at risk of what?" because we already suspect that the reply would be "at risk of everything".

Frank Furedi Paranoid Parenting (2001)

posted by Jonathan Calder | 10:52 pm