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Home > Culture and Society

WAWIBF: Dead Babies

Our kids have gone nuts. It's probably because they're getting too much sugar in their breakfast cereals. Or not enough Sunny Delight. Something like that.

22 October 2003

In the Martin Amis novel with the above title, a character called Marvell points out that children are now "blowing each other in the fuckin playpens." But of course, this was a satirical novel and Amis was only just beginning to hone his obsession with lost childhood innocence. They weren’t really blowing each other in playpens. But they are now. Probably. And if they are now, maybe they always did and we just didn't hear about it before? Are our babies really more at risk now than ever? Or were they always as mad and fucked up as the adults that spawned them?

Two stories this week are not likely to produce any answers, but they may make you shake your head in a 'oh, whatever is the world coming to' kind of way. The first features a riot in a nursery in Croatia, where a one-year-old boy was attacked by his fourteen playroom-mates, and savagely bitten about the face and body. The baby sustained over thirty deep bite marks, but the physical scars will most probably fade with time. One dreads to think however, of what might now be going on inside. One imagines a lifelong terror of the human mouth which may or may not result in... well, best not dwell. Poor little sod.

The other case is equally disturbing. It is the story of a four-year-old Northern Irish girl who tried to slash her wrists while in the care of social services. The story came to light this week when a study carried out by the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen's University in Belfast showed that almost half of the children in care in Northern Ireland suffer behavioural difficulties, including many cases of self-harming.

So what does it all mean? Should we be shouting and screaming and castigating ourselves, wondering what on earth kind of damage we must be inflicting in a world where our four-year-olds are trying to top themselves? Should we just shrug our shoulders and accept that our children are just another casualty of twenty-first century comeback, along with the rest of us? Or should we console ourselves that it was always like this, and that there’s fuck all to be done either way?

We don't know. But they should definitely bring back Child’s Play.

Poignant, if spooky child-related website:


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