Saturday, September 24, 2011

Childhood being eroded by modern life, British experts warn

This is a surprisingly reactionary letter from a group of Lefties. As long as they can interfere in other people's lives they are happy, I guess. But it is all just assertion and opinion so is not worth much.

Let me make some counter-assertions: I helped bring up a son and a stepson who spent most of their free time as kids playing computer games, with my approval. They are both now happy, well-adjusted achievement-oriented young men who work hard at what they do -- one in business and one in academe. So they came to no harm from their computer "addiction".

I think that there IS concern about the behaviours that young people learn these days but that lies at the feet of moronic "non-directive" modern schools and bombed-out parents. One of my "boys" went to a selective State school and the other to a private school but their genes and their civilized home life were probably more important factors

Childhood is being eroded by a “relentless diet” of advertising, addictive computer games, test-driven education and poor childcare, a powerful lobby of more than 200 experts warns today.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, the group of academics, teachers, authors and charity leaders says children’s wellbeing and mental health is being undermined by the pressures of modern life. They urge the Government to address a culture of “too much, too soon” in Britain.

This includes a ban on all forms of advertising aimed at the youngest children, the establishment of a play-based curriculum for infants and a public information campaign warning of the dangers of screen-based entertainment.

The comments came five years after many of the same experts sent similar letter to the Telegraph that criticised politicians and the public for failing to allow children to develop properly at a young age. It led to a debate on the state of childhood in Britain and coincided with the publication of Labour’s Children’s Plan — a policy document covering all aspects of young people’s lives.

But the group, which includes Philip Pullman, the children’s author, Baroness Greenfield, the Oxford University neuroscientist, Lord Layard, emeritus professor of economics at the London School of Economics, and the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, claims that the “erosion of childhood in Britain has continued apace since 2006”.

A UN report published last week accused British parents of trapping children in a cycle of “compulsive consumerism” by showering them with toys and designer labels instead of spending quality time with them.

The academics say Britain has the “lowest levels of children’s wellbeing in the developed world” and is regularly placed “at or near the top of international league tables on almost all indicators of teenage distress and disaffection”.

The letter adds: “Although parents are now deeply concerned about this issue, the erosion of childhood in the UK has continued apace since 2006. Our children are subjected to increasing commercial pressures, they begin formal education far earlier than the European norm, and they spend ever-more time indoors with screen-based technology, rather than in active outdoor activity and play.

“The time has come to move from awareness to action.”

The letter, which is signed by 228 people, was circulated by Dr Richard House, senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education. It calls for major reforms to save children from a “relentless diet of 'too much, too soon’”.

This should include a public information campaign highlighting children’s developmental needs, the requirement to promote high quality child care and the dangers of a “consumerist, screen-based lifestyle”.

The group also criticises the education system, saying that five year-olds should be given a play-based curriculum in the first full year of school instead of formal lessons. The comments will be seen as a criticism of Coalition plans to subject all children to a reading test at the end of their first year in school.

The letter calls for a ban on all forms of marketing directed at children up until at least the age of seven.

Dr House told the Telegraph: “The inexorable momentum of modern­technological life is such that despite the awareness raised through the September 2006 Telegraph open letter on 'toxic childhood’, matters have improved very little.

“We also live in an age of seemingly ever-mounting anxiety; and when the adult world is unable to contain and process its own anxieties in a mature way, they inevitably get projected on to children, resulting in countless well-intentioned but often highly inappropriate intrusions into children’s experience that leave children’s true needs misunderstood and neglected.”

Publication of the letter coincides with the publication of a book, Too Much, Too Soon?, featuring 23 essays on early learning and the erosion of childhood.

One study by Sally Goddard Blythe, the director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, concluded that up to half of children were not ready for school at the age of five because of “sedentary lifestyles”. They struggled to grip pencils properly, sit still, stand up straight and even catch a ball after failing to develop physical and communication skills at a young age.

Mrs Goddard Blythe said: “If I go back 23 years to when I first started to work in this field, the majority of people we saw were those for whom there was a primary underlying cause for their difficulties, such as mild cerebral palsy.

“Increasingly, I am seeing children with no single, obvious cause but general lifestyle issues that seem to be contributing to the fact that they are not developing motor skills in the way they did 20 years ago.

“They are spending more time in front of computer games and electronic media, meaning they have less opportunity to go out and play, explore and take risks.”

Sarah Teather, the Children’s Minister, said the Government was trying to help families but added: “Government can only do so much. As a society, we all have a stake in making sure there is time for family life and children are free to cherish their childhoods.”


British businessman boycotts Jobcentre school leavers because 'they have no work ethic and spend all their time checking their phones'

A businessman is boycotting Jobcentres [government offices designed to help the unemployed find work] after complaining that the school leavers they sent him trudged in with hangovers and spent all their time checking their mobile phones or Facebook.

Garden centre boss Richard Haddock, aged 54, despaired of the youngsters he was sent and has branded Britain’s new generation of teenagers as having no work ethic and unfit for the labour market. He is now recruiting older people and workers from abroad after abandoning hope of being able to find suitable candidates at the Jobcentre.

The frustrated boss says the only school leavers he now employs are those from his local grammar school. He has stopped advertising at the Jobcentre and has resorted to seeking staff by putting up a sign outside his farm shop at Churston, near Brixham, Devon, and interviewing those who apply. He invites them to work without pay for a two-hour trial and will take them on if he thinks they are suitable.

He said: 'I have had youngsters sent here from the Jobcentre and most aren’t interested in working at all. They just want their form signed to show they came for the interview.

'When we have employed school leavers they have generally been unsuited for the world of work. They turn up late, half asleep or with hangovers and spend half their time checking their mobile phones. 'They know they should not wear nail varnish because they are handling food but they turn up wearing it anyway. If you try to discipline them or help them, they throw it back in your face.

'I have had a fantastic experience with our local Churston Grammar School where I have taken children from 14 upwards on work experience. They are brilliant and they want to work.

'I have stopped taking people from the Jobcentre because they don’t want to work. Now we have a sandwich board outside and if anyone is interested I give them a trial. 'If they do well then I will take them on as an apprentice and put them through their NVQs. I also take on older people. I treat my staff like family and expect the same back.

'We need to change our attitude to education and stop telling young people they need to go to university and expect to come out to a £50,000 job. 'We have youngsters who have fantastic potential but we need to help them.'

Mr Haddock is one of Britain’s most high-profile farmers who led the fuel protests in the 1990s and the campaign against the last Government’s Foot and Mouth policy. He runs a cattle farm at Kingswear, near Dartmouth, in Devon, and has diversified into running a farm shop and garden centre at nearby Churston.

Local schools have rejected his criticism. Jane English, head of Paignton Community College, said: 'There are some fantastic young people out there. 'We do help our students prepare for work by learning about punctuality and respect. We know most have mobiles but we do explain there is a right time and place to do things.'

A DWP spokesperson said: 'The Government is now reforming the welfare system and Jobcentre Plus to give people the right support to get into work. 'We are helping young people into work in a number of ways including setting up work experience and apprenticeships and the Work Programme is now providing tailored support to help jobseekers into sustainable employment.'


British Christian charity told staff to remove cross 'in case it offends public'

It sounds like a case of "Stockholm syndrome"

Managers at a Christian charity told staff to remove a large cross from its entrance lobby over fears that the item could upset victims of clerical abuse.

The Kenward Trust, a 40-year-old Christian charity for drug and alcohol addicts, was accused of sidelining its religious origins in an attempt to make itself “more inclusive” to clients.

Tony Williams, who lost his job as head of communications at the charity last year, claimed at an employment tribunal that he had been fired for being “too Christian”. However, the tribunal ruled in favour of the charity’s managers and rejected his claim of religious discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Mr Williams, 57, from Maidstone, Kent, claimed that “overtly” Christian items were ordered to be removed from display because the charity’s management wanted to make sure that no one who entered the building felt “excluded”.

Mr Williams told the tribunal in Ashford, Kent, that he believed he was unfairly dismissed and that he had been discriminated against because of his religious beliefs. He said he felt he had been “set up to fail” after he was interviewed for another post during staff restructuring, before being made redundant.

“I did feel that what happened to me was an ill conceived business decision to secure contracts with the secular community and as such I was the sacrificial lamb,” Mr Williams said.

Godfrey Featherstone, a former director of the Kenward Trust, who retired in 2008, backed Mr Williams’s complaint. The 68-year-old told the tribunal: “I was becoming more uneasy that the Christian centredness that was at the very heart of Kenward was, in truth, being sidelined.”

The charity rejected the allegations. Angela Painter, the chief executive of the Kenward Trust, said Mr Williams had been selected for redundancy because he had performed badly at interview.

Mrs Painter denied the Christian ethos of the charity had been diluted. “One of the things we know from our service users was that at times a very obvious big cross can trigger the memory of abuse in a Christian setting which would be upsetting,” she said.

The tribunal found that Mr Williams had been “fairly selected for redundancy” and that he was not discriminated against because of his religious beliefs. He was ordered to pay £500 in costs.

After the hearing, Mrs Painter said one large wooden cross and one large religious picture had been removed from the entrance lobby of the charity’s building in Maidstone. But individual staff members were not asked to remove their own Bibles or crucifixes from their desks.

The trust, which is based in Yalding, Kent, offers recovery programmes for adults who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol and provided treatment for more than 800 people last year.


The Unique Nature of Jew Hatred

As many of the nations of the world align themselves against Israel, this is a good time to be reminded of the unique nature of anti-Semitism, hatred of the Jews because they are Jews. And while few people would claim that the modern state of Israel is flawless in its conduct or that the Jewish people are above moral reproach, it is clear that there is something irrational, even diabolical, about Jew hatred. Consider the evidence in its totality.

1) Anti-Semitism is the longest hatred of all time. Catholic scholar Edward Flannery wrote: “Antisemitism is the longest and deepest hatred of human history. . . . What other hatred has endured some twenty-three centuries and survived a genocide of 6,000,000 of its victims in its twenty-third century of existence only to find itself still intact and rich in potential for many years of life?” Today, Anti-Semitism is at its highest levels since immediately before the Holocaust, equaling, in fact, those pre-Holocaust levels. How can this be?

These accusations against found in the biblical book of Esther, roughly 2,500 years old, still ring true in the hearts of many anti-Semites today: “There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples . . . whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey [international] laws; it is not in [our] best interest to tolerate them” (Esther 3:8, with slight modifications made to make this more contemporary). Why has this hatred of the Jews persisted for so long?

2) Anti-Semitism is the most widespread hatred of all time. It can be traced from the Greco-Roman world to Christianity (yes, Christianity, including vicious comments from some of the Church’s greatest leaders); from Islam to Fascism to Communism (intense anti-Semitism links Muslim terrorists, Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin); from White Supremacists to Black Supremacists; from university campuses to the world press; from the philosopher Voltaire to the historian Arnold Toynbee; from the composer Richard Wagner to the car designer Henry Ford; from Japan to Russia to Iran. Why the Jews?

A few years ago, a very bizarre group made a big media splash when they claimed to have produced the world’s first human clone. The group, called the Raelians, is a UFO religion, led by its founder Rael, who claims to have been enlightened by aliens. After hearing the cloning report, I went to the Raelian website, purely out of curiosity. To my utter amazement, the featured message from Rael was laced with anti-Jewish sentiments, including the charge that “Israel is engaged in State terrorism” and the claim that “a small handful of the millions of American Jews are holding the rest of the 250 million Americans hostage.” Even the Raelians were polluted by an anti-Semitic stream! Why this widespread hatred of the Jews?

3) Anti-Semitism is the most vicious hatred of all time. Both the incredible violence and the depth of animosity against the Jews defy rational explanation. The enormity and depravity of the Holocaust alone testifies to the viciousness of this hatred, and yet the Holocaust is simply the worst of countless acts of Jew hatred over the centuries. So depraved were the Nazis (and other Jew killers) that Jewish infants were sometimes thrown into burning pits alive in order to save a bullet, leading to the oft-quoted dictum of Rabbi Irving Greenberg: “Moreover, summon up the principle that no statement should be made [about the Holocaust] that could not be made in the presence of the burning children.” Nothing more needs to be said.

4) Anti-Semitism is the most irrational hatred of all time. The absurdity of the anti-Semitic libels defies rational explanation. When the Black Plague decimated Europe, Jews were accused of starting the plague by poisoning the wells with a mixture made of spiders, lizards and the hearts of Christians mixed together with the sacred elements of the Lord’s supper. Outraged mobs slaughtered thousands of Jews as a result of this pernicious rumor. When the Catholic Church declared in 1215 that the elements of communion literally became the body and blood of Jesus, Jews were accused of stealing and torturing communion wafers, leading to Jewish communities being burned at the stake. In the Muslim world today, it is still believed that every year, Jews kidnap and torture a priest (or other victim), using his blood to make Passover matzah (unleavened bread). The Muslim world also takes seriously the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious forged document from the nineteenth century that claims to report the secret plans of a hidden group of Jewish leaders who are poised to take over the entire world—ultimately bringing it into subjection to the Hindu god Vishnu! Jews have even been accused of controlling the Catholic Church.

Article Seventeen of the Hamas Charter refers to “Zionist organizations under various names and shapes, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, espionage groups and others which are all nothing more than cells of subversion and saboteurs.” Even the Masons are controlled by the Jews!

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if some of the standard anti-Semitic libels appear in the comments that will be posted. And so the story continues.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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