DWJ resurgence

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 4 17:27:40 EDT 2003

--- minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:
> In <20030803.225044.2596.2.lizcrowe at juno.com>,
> Elizabeth Crowe wrote:
> >I was responding to DWJ's personal experience as a
> child who felt
> >unwanted rather than nurtured by her parents.  I'm
> assuming that the
> >numbers of children who are victims of neglect and
> abuse are on the rise.
> > Maybe I'm wrong?
> Ah, then I read what you said wrong and I apologise.
> When you wrote
> >> >It seems to me that Jones's common
> >> >theme of children left to their own devices is 
> >> >even more applicable to
> >> >today's children than it was when the books were
> >> >originally published.>
> that would be your saying that they *are* left to
> their own devices
> more, and that this makes the books more relevant to
> their actual
> experience? I read it as "they are so stifled in
> cottonwool that
> escaping is even more important than it used to be
> back when they
> weren't", which I think was what Ven too was saying.
> I think it is probably impossible to say whether
> child-abuse of any kind
> is rising or falling, because so much will depend on
> the definition of
> "abuse", and of "child".  I think it likely that the
> instances of
> *undetected* *actual* abuse may be falling, because
> shopping one's
> neighbours to the police or social services or
> children's charities has
> (praise the god of your choice!) become acceptable
> as behaviour, and
> ordinary people who might in previous times have
> felt that it was "none
> of their business" are now aware of possibilities
> for intervention in a
> way they used not to be.  

Speaking as someone who deals with children every day
and who's been doing so for a quarter of a century
(Ghodd!! I think I'll leave that thought alone) I have
to say that there is imho a definite trend in western
society to limit children's freedom, and to organise
their lives for them. I see a large number of kids
who's parents have orgainised some activity for them
every day of the week. Then suddenly they become
rebelious teenagers and the only thing they know how
to do with their mates is hang out at the shops. There
certainly are children who's parents take little
interest in their lives and who are left to their own
devices, but this has always been the case and is no
longer held up to be good parenting. When I was a kid
in the '60s it was considered quite normal for kids to
take themselves off for the day with their friends and
create their own entertainment. Although I did once
get into trouble when my little sister disapeared in
the bush with a friend of hers - she was four at the
time, surely that's the age of independance.
As for threats to children, there is certainly a
greater awareness of such risks but I don't think that
this reflects and real change. Children have always
been abused. Indeed most of the figures that are used
to justify a high frequency of abuse are derived from
the memories of adults' own childhoods and so actually
reflect a situation 40 years ago. I don't believe that
crime statistics show any dramatic increase in crimes
against children, if anything (and I'm not even sure
about this) and increase in reporting of such crimes.
To take all this back to DWJ (and also HP) my feeling
is that it is children missing the sort of childhoods
described in these books (without strict adult
supervison) that is the cause of their appeal. Many of
the children I see who lack this supervision and are
allowed to roam free and not the ones who read much.


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