This is a blog about me and the things that make me laugh, smile, hurt or cry!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Childhood Gone Wild

There are two issues in the childhood discussion that really bother me. They both entail asking children to grow sooner than they should.

Sexy Clothing
The first is what I call the 'sexualisation' of childhood. Walk into any shop and see the kind of things that are on sale for little girls. Apart from the sizes, there is no difference with what adult women wear. I have friends that are size 6 or 8 who sometimes shop from the kids section. Underwear, clothes, shoes, accessories. We are starting young and younger. What is there to look forward to when you grow up if you can do and wear everything while you are still a child. When do you tell a girl that the revealing clothes she has been wearing all her life and now no longer appropriate at any and every occasion. Why does a five year old girl need to wear halter-necks with a plunging neckline? There is no distinction, when in my view, there should be.

The no childhood thing manifests itself in other ways too, the most common in Zambia being skipping grades in school. Parents claim that this is so they can save money by cutting down on school years. Children work harder and harder than ever before. They have hours of homework and a mountain of organised extra curricular activities designed to push and push. Like parents, they must perform at all levels in all areas.

Why is finishing high school at 14 such a bad idea in my view?

Some things, we only learn through time and age. Why should we decide our lives so young (15 years), when many are still figuring it out decades later. Why would a parent want their child in college at 16 years old. Why would any father want that for their daughter, when he knows the mind of a young man. There is a reason why child psychologists all over the world recommend six or seven as the right age to start school. In developed countries there are restrictions on school age and I don't know why schools here (especially private schools) are allowed to admit children into grade one at the age of four. This is just wrong. Just because you are able to write grade seven and age nine, doesn't mean you should.

As someone who went to college at age 16 (in a class where the average age was 22), I saw first hand why going to college at 18 is a much better idea. Closures and the like meant that I was 18 plus when my second round at first year rolled round in November 1997. Further closures meant that instead of graduating at 21, I left school at 23. Because we had both started university at 17, my room mate and I have always been thankful for the closures as we were so much more mature and ready to take on the world when we did.

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