Destroying Childhood?

African BoysIn the United Kingdom there is a lot of fuss being made about the new school curriculum. Apparently, 198 academics have signed a letter which says that the new curriculum “abolishes childhood”. Now, I do not have qualifications to judge the curriculum educationally. But really, “abolishing childhood” or “destroying childhood”?

Let me take you to the real world.

  • A little girl of 7 in Mumbai, India is forced into child prostitution. That is destroying childhood.
  • A small boy in Asia is made to work long hours in a brick factory.  That is destroying childhood.

  • A child in Africa has to carry water 5 miles from a stagnant pool to his home, and cannot attend school.  That is destroying childhood.
  • A boy in the Congo Democratic Republic is abducted, a gun is placed in his hands and he is forced to be a child soldier. That is destroying childhood.
  • A girl in Zambia dies from Malaria at the age of 4 because there are no mosquito nets available. That is destroying childhood.
  • A girl in England is sexually abused by her father, causing a lifetime of insecurity. That is destroying childhood.
  • A baby in Eritrea is grossly under-nourished and suffers brain damage as a result. The baby survives, but can never flourish in the world. That is destroying childhood.
  • A girl in the slums of Nairobi is raped on her way to school. Now she is afraid to leave the home, and so there is no schooling. That is destroying childhood.

After listening to some discussion on television, I came upstairs to write my next blog article, but was unsure about what to write about. But the anger I felt when listening to people talking about abolishing childhood in a flippant way, welled up inside me again – hence this article.

Childhood is a wonderful thing. As I travel round the world, I see the lines of hardship in people’s faces, but the children are mostly joyful and resilient. But childhood is fragile and can so easily be spoilt – though not by a school curriculum!

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mathew 19:13-14)

So let academics, teachers, parents and authorities, sensibly discuss how best to teach our children. But please! Leave extreme language out of the discussion and reserve phases like “abolishing childhood” to situations which really do destroy the innocence of our young people, and the future citizens of our world.

Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

2 thoughts on “Destroying Childhood?”

  1. Thanks George. I share your view that we should keep the issue of whether our education system is “destroying childhood” in proportion. The experiences of children in developing countries id clearly far, far worse than our own. Arguably, helping our own children to appreciate the experiences of children in the developing world would give our children a far more rounded perspective. Overall though perhaps we should be directing the debate to what constitutes a balanced and rounded education. There is little value in a system which focuses so much on academic achievement that children lose (for example) the importance of compassion


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