"An analysis of children’s place in society and an empowering call to arms to defend their human rights."
The fourteenth book from this bestselling childcare and parenting expert is designed to be provocative. She wants the reader to re-examine their own childhood, as well as their parenting experience and to look more widely at how our society treats children.
It is an altogether fascinating blend of history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and current affairs, written in an accessible, chatty, myth-busting style, but with each chapter fully backed up by references. As a mother of four, like the author, I found myself forcefully agreeing as I was reading about the potential harm caused by so called sleep training and historical attitudes to discipline still widely used today, particularly in education. I particularly liked the underlying passion for fighting injustice.
If you struggle to see what childcare has to do with current affairs and injustice then you are exactly the audience for this book, which will be relevant to educators, policy makers and any professionals working with children and their carers. I perhaps am less enthusiastic about using the term childism as a blanket term to describe the problem and putting it alongside sexism, racism, etc but only because it seems clumsy. In fact, I might go as far as to say that the attitudes to children in society are part and parcel of overall sexism and sexist attitudes to women.
Indeed, the author has some very cogent feminist arguments about the status of childcare. Her political arguments for society needing to invest in proper childcare and proper support for families are very powerful, as are the arguments for investing in an improved education system.
The book focuses most on the early years, as is to be expected, because of all the research which clearly demonstrate that harsh treatment in childhood really does cause long-term psychological damage. In previous books she has coined the term ‘gentle parenting,’ also advocated here as the way forward, but extended beyond the home to how society should treat children. Neither permissive nor authoritarian, but authoritative and supportive.
Her fundamental point is about children’s human rights and many chapters conclude with challenging the reader to consider questions related to the Articles of either the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. For example, why, in many countries are children the only humans we are still legally allowed to hit? This thought provoking and valuable book concludes with a quote from Nelson Mandela “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. Unarguably true!