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The current trivialization of childhood


Published in

El Confidencial Digital

Gerardo Castillo Ceballos

D. in Pedagogy and Professor Emeritus from the University of Navarra.

Children are the most vulnerable group and, therefore, the one that suffers most from the crises and problems of society. subject According to report published in 2020 by the WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund, every year, half of the world's children, around one billion, are affected by some form of physical, sexual or psychological abuse, because countries do not follow the strategies established to protect them. In addition to the suffering they cause at the time they are abused, all of these abuses have subsequent consequences when the children grow up. For example, children who have four or more violent experiences during childhood are seven times more likely to be involved in violent acts, either as victims or perpetrators, as adults. And thirty times more likely to commit suicide.

A second attack on childhood is the alteration of its identity. Narodowski, for example, argues that media culture is provoking new childhood identities, such as, for example, that of "hyper-realized childhood": children are going through a vertiginous infantile period thanks to new technologies, acquiring an instrumental knowledge superior to that of many adults. Today's children feel self-sufficient; they believe that they do not need adults' financial aid for information, since they can learn everything with the computer. 

There is a growing trend towards the "adultization" of children. Some parents are trying to educate their young children for an extreme autonomy. They want them to behave like adults. They ignore the fact that childhood is the stage of "being-child," and not that of "not-yet-being-adult." We are witnessing the return of an old myth that seemed to have been overcome: that of the child as a miniature (or scale) adult. It is forgotten that the child has its own personality, different from that of the adult.

The Canadian researcher Catherine L'Ecuyer has recently vindicated the importance of innocence, because "we are skipping a necessary stage for the development staff . At that time of life we must favor play, imagination and creativity". He has also warned of the risks of shortening childhood, because if it is not lived at the right time, it is lived later, and then infantilism arises in adults.

Today's children feel very lonely, sometimes when it could be avoided. I am thinking of parents who do not try to reconcile professional and family life and of those who believe that it is good for young children to get used to being alone at home. Imposed solitude is never good; in their adult life it will only bring them great difficulties to relate healthily with others. This problem is aggravated by the near disappearance of traditional gang play, replaced by video games. The game is a learning source for the little ones. It also develops their thinking and creativity. A child who plays will surely be a well-adjusted and well-adjusted adult who performs well in life.

Some manifestations of childish belittling stem from a mistaken view of childhood. Why are we adults still invited to be like children? The answer involves talking about the values of childhood. We are suggested to focus on the present, not on the past or the future; to be amazed by what surrounds us and to show curiosity; to know how to forgive and avoid resentment; to express our feelings frankly; not to prejudge; to always get up after a fall; to see the best in people; to put our heart into everything we do; to be happy with what we have; to be creative (a creative adult is a child who has survived); to look at things as if it were the first time we had seen them. 

The invitation to be like children does not consist in fostering infantilism. It is not a process of regression and fixation on the infantile stage. It is something similar to proposing to the elderly "to be young in spirit". Childhood, like youth, is a virtue without age. It is not strange, therefore, that for some authors the road to Christian perfection passes through "spiritual childhood".