Sad, not bad: that’s just mad

POLITICAL correctness has gone rampant. The UN believes that it should be illegal for parents to smack a child and that children should have the same protection from “assault” as adults. At the same time as horrific details of child sexual abuse are coming to light by way of clergy, and celebrity paedophile rings, loving parents who smack their child for running across a road could be dobbed in by teachers or neighbours and prosecuted as criminals — and then what, guys? Fifty lashes?

Meanwhile, school officials in Colorado have accused a child of sexual harassment. The six-year-old boy was suspended twice and is now labelled a “sexual harasser” on his student record for kissing a female classmate he has a crush on. Sandy Wurtele, a child psychologist criticising the charge, said: “I don’t think a six-year-old would understand what harassment is.” You don’t say.

Most bemusing to me are new rules many daycare and pre-school centres are adopting around the world where very young kids are being treated with the same “respect” as adults. They have to be spoken to calmly and in a positive tone. As they are dangling dangerously from a tree a carer shouldn’t scream, “OMG! Get down, you’ll fall!” Rather perhaps bestow an enlightened perspective: “Without intruding on your right to dangle, I would like to point out that your actions might have a deleterious effect on your future if you fall and crack your cranium open.” When one kid whacks another, it’s not called “bad” behaviour, rather referred to as “sad” behaviour. Needless to say, the whacking, dangling and stealing hasn’t stopped.

It’s now advised that teachers and carers remain at the children’s eye-level as much possible, sitting on the floor to read or crouching next to them to talk, so that they don’t appear to be intimidating authority figures, rather equals or friends.

Wait till those kids go off into the wide world. They’ll get a shock to discover that landlords, bosses, police and lecturers are not “friends” and will not crouch down. I’m a big advocate of educating children towards emotional intelligence, not simply academic achievement, but I wonder whether this is a worrying level of political correctness. Children need to learn boundaries and prepare for a harsh reality. Are we breeding a generation of soft-bellied, self-important and naive teenagers?

Disciplining kids seems to have gone out the window. And here’s a fact forgotten in the debate. The part of the brain that controls reasoning — the prefrontal cortex — does not fully mature until the age of 25. So what are we trying to achieve with two-year-olds? Children are not small adults. They are children, and perhaps certain political do-gooders should develop some reasoning of their own.

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