Kids not all right?

11th June 2010 at 01:00

Are kids eternally the same? Mike Kent seems to think so ("Society has changed; kids haven't", June 4). His evidence is, however, less than convincing.

He tells us that children's attention spans are getting shorter and that they are increasingly consumers of "highly unsuitable drama" and hours of TV showing adult behaviour.

And yet, we are asked to believe that all this input into young minds leaves children the same as they always were.

Whatever position one takes in the nature versus nurture debate, this is surely an extreme position. Even if children are subject to the most inappropriate influences, and if their behaviour changes accordingly, it is suggested, they will be essentially unchanged. On this basis, one could argue that a psychotic killer, brought up on a diet of violence and abuse, is still, beneath it all, essentially the same as everyone else.

What we are is reflected in what we do. A child showing anti-social behaviour and total lack of concern for others is different from a child without such problems. It may be possible to rescue such a child given appropriate intervention, but the intervention is required precisely because there is a problem.

One of the great problems in the UK is that the sort of half-baked thought contained in Mike Kent's article passes for serious educational comment. His closing line says it all: "Perhaps, after all, we shouldn't worry too much just yet."

David Pavett, Semi-retired, part-time maths teacher, west London.

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