When I was about 17 this was the speech I wanted to make to the world, well Western society at least. I doubt it would be the one I would make today but when I read the question it got me thinking about this speech and how much it meant to me. I still believe a lot of the points I made and the anger and feeling behind it are valid.
Childhood has never been straight forward and in resent years there is a growing consensus that it is in a peculiarly parlous state. What is this so-called parlous state? Academics and children’s experts say that a deadly cocktail of junk food and electronic entertainment, combined with the sinister effects of over-competitive schooling and marketing are poisoning our childhoods. I would like to put it to you that this consensus is fuelled by adults who have all too quickly forgotten childhood and its true form. These adults look back on their childhood through rose-tinted glasses to see an adult imagined world of what they believe it was like.
Is electronic entertainment driving children in doors such a bad thing? Adults would have you believe that children spend hours in darkened rooms in front of a box that sends out images of violence. The fact that there has always been violence in the play ground, in cartoons and in fairy tales doesn’t come in to the argument. Research carried out by the BBC state that children are more likely to be disturbed by violence seen on the news than in fictional media. Adults complain that children no longer go out to see their friends instead they turn on a computer and chat with them without having to make the laborious effort of having to see them face to face. I personally believe that not enough is time given to research that suggest that computer games can assist children’s social and educational development. Young people are using technology to make music, learn and connect with friends across the globe.
Adults insist that children’s childhoods are becoming shorter and that we are growing up far to fast. This could be because never before has there been such a relentless barrage of marketing aimed at children. That there are more and more images of adults present as an aspiration for children, with the perfect make-up and hair, dressed from head to toe in height of fashion. Yet this marketing is a mirror image of that aimed at adults. Children are merely following in their parents foot steps.
Are children really growing up faster? Children may smoke and have mobile phones but this does not mean they have the ability to leave home or get a job. Economic independence is harder to reach by children today unlike forty years ago when it was not unusual for children to be working by the age of sixteen. This illustrates how difficult it is for children to reach the traditional milestones of adulthood: owning your own home, having a job and getting married with children is being push further back in life.
These however I believe to a cover of a greater embarrassment to adults not children and that is with all our advance in technology and understanding; and all their knowledge teachers and parents are still facing the same problems they did a millennium ago when it comes to children. There has always been great pressure on children, yet adults are still no closer to understanding how to deal with them. We all know what childhood is, but what defines a good childhood and when does it end. The last of course is that all gown ups know what it is like to be a child but there greatest fear is that they will not understand their own children.
If you could make a speech to the world what would it be??