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Home > Culture and Society

Children: Spare the Rock Painting, Spoil the Child

16 February 2007

It's official: the kids are fucked. And not in a good way.

This week a UNICEF report revealed that the UK's children are the poorest, fattest, most promiscuous, most pissed, most stoned, most dysfunctional and probably worst at Pictionary of most rich nations. The causes of all this childhood grief are clearly complicated, but in the ensuing debate, pundits and the public were quick to highlight the obvious root cause: lack of discipline.

Groan. We're not suggesting that there isn't a problem with discipline of *some* sort with *some* kids, at least judging by some of the monkey children you see in Asda. (Mind you, you're not exactly off to a head start in life if your parents refer to tomato ketchup as 'the red sauce'. True story.) However, it's deeply irksome how the same sodding non-solutions keep coming up, not least the old favourite, National Service. The problem is that most of the 'solutions' simply WILL NOT WORK (sorry about the shouting). We're pissing into the wind here, but let's take them one at a time:


1) Corporal punishment

We had corporal punishment in the 1950s and we didn't have a discipline problem then, runs the argument. Two points: (A) There was plenty of bad behaviour in the 50s, and (B) It's like saying computer games are the cause of obesity. There's *some* causal connection, but it's a simplistic view because there are so many other factors at work. In any case, 'Splinter Cell' is miles
better than skipping.


2) National Service (to instil discipline in society in general)

Sorry, but you can't turn the clock back. Almost no one craves wasting two years of your life when you could be studying or starting some sort of genuine career. And National Service is prohibitively expensive for the government, because, quelle surprise, there isn't much economic benefit in millions of young men marching up and down and painting rocks white.


3) Clamping down on the media

The media promotes bad/criminal behaviour, allegedly. Whoever thinks this obviously has a different Sky package to us, because we haven't seen any shows called 'Why Not Rape Someone?' recently. It's also blindingly obvious that becoming involved in crime is more to do with *real* things than TV, like having crim mates or being addicted to heroin. And on a practical level, what are people proposing to do? Ban TV? There'd be riots in the streets.


4) An end to reality TV

Oh fuck off. Appearing on reality TV may not be the noblest of aspirations, but wanting to be on 'Big Brother' doesn't mean you've somehow rejected all that is good and decent, except maybe if you're Jo O'Meara. But the reality is that Big Brother contestants aren't role models, because even morons regard them as the circus freak show they are.

....

So there you have it. Maybe people can stop banging on about these predictable non-solutions to discipline problems now. Yeah, right, and maybe when they die, Rupert Murdoch and Paris Hilton can go skating together.



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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