When you reach your seventh decade, most news stories lose the power to shock. Sadly, most are variations of news that has gone before. This can be a cruel world.
Two reports did shock me this week:
1. Children attending school at four years old, do not recognise their names.
Children experiencing physical cruelty is horrible, shocking and criminal. Though it's not news, unless truly horrible and the media can play the blame game with social workers. Here I will plug my favourite and underfunded charity: http://www.childline.org.uk
Not recognising or knowing their name, may not, at first, seem to come under the child cruelty heading, but isn't it? It's not physical cruelty, but it suggests emotional neglect at a much deeper level. This report is not about one or two children either. It is about a number of children. It was that aspect I found shocking.
I am not naive. Thirty-five years ago, I recall the head teacher at the local primary school, asking the parents to make sure that their five-year-old children could obey simple commands, dress themselves, were toilet trained and hold a knife and fork. Eating together as a family at table was disappearing. She didn't ask that they knew their names. Nearly all the children that attended the school could be regarded as coming from middle-class homes.
Forty-five years ago, when I was helping at a private nursery school, a delightful, but silent three-year-old little girl attended. She didn't speak because her 'well to do' mother hadn't spoken to her. She had been quite surprised that she was supposed to. Seen, but not heard perhaps?
The horrors of the schools in Charles Dickens's books also come to mind. Are we returning to Victorian times, despite our material riches?
As for blame, I note that television and computers are mentioned in the article. But are they the real culprits?
I'm going to suggest something more fundamental to childcare and very rarely mentioned in articles about children and communication.
Front-facing pushchairs. I dislike them intensely. Always have done.
Have a look around any city, town or village. Small children are being pushed away from their carer. There is no eye contact, let alone verbal contact. The child stares into oblivion. No wonder so many children have tantrums being restrained in them.
The carer may stop to talk to someone or go into a shop. The child slumps, staring silently into space.
I believe that the front-facing pushchair was developed to make life easier for parents. I seem to recall the Maclaren's buggy being thought revolutionary, as it folded up so easily and was light. Other manufacturers jumped on board with their versions.
Out of interest I thought I'd have a google. It would appear that front-facing pushchairs are expensive and more difficult to purchase. Then I found the following. Oh dear, the blindingly obvious again.
Choosing a reversible or rear-facing pushchair
Over the past twelve months we have seen an increasing