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What is happening to our children?


All families in OECD countries today are aware that childhood is being reshaped by forces whose mainspring is not necessarily the best interests of the child. At the same time, a wide public in the OECD countries is becoming ever more aware that many of the corrosive social problems affecting the quality of life have their genesis in the changing ecology of childhood. Many therefore feel that it is time to attempt to re-gain a degree of understanding, control and direction over what is happening to our children in their most vital, vulnerable years.

 

Here is a report by UNICEF, a comprehensive assessment of the lives and well-being of children and adolescents in the economically advanced nations. One of the most interesting aspects of this report, is that it includes the perception children themselves have about their life. Top 5 countries where children feel good: Netherlands, Spain, Greece, Austria and Ireland. Top 5 countries (excluding USA) where children feel miserable: England, Poland, France, Czech Republic and Belgium.

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3 Comments

  1. James

    The Irish finding in the report speaks volumes, despite the fact that this is one of the countries where children “feel good” (whatever that particular term actual means) about themselves and, despite the fact that this country has, and has had the greatest economic growth and wealth creation in the past 10 years, then an other E.U country. Child poverty still remains above the 15% mark! with almost the highest rate of relative income poverty (its 22nd of out the 25 countries surveyed).

    Ireland may not be Europe’s economic “basket case” anymore, and its certainly a country where the majority of the population “feel happy” because of their new found wealth, but this is precisely the problem with Irish society today, there’s simply no other way, any longer for people and their off-spring to define the term “happiness” then in purely economic terms, i.e. how much money have you got? To put it crudely. There simply seems to be no other question that’s as important in Irish public life today then this question, and that’s a sad reflection on a “society” and a “culture” that’s simply becoming nothing more, then a collection of self satisfied atoms, enthralled, and numbed into the uncritical silence of mass consumerism, each member of which is always perennially “happy” because they know nor care about anything else, but being “happy”. A perfect tautology, the ultimate irony of the human spirit and mind eventually been negated and destroyed at the end of history not, by the revenge of body (that’s to dangerous an idea,) but by the tepid ideology of “happiness”.

    So are the children happy? Perhaps the future or maybe the past belongs to the miserable children in the other countries, perhaps there feeling of ennui towards the ideology of 24/7 mass “happiness” is the right one, precisely because it’s the only honest response they feel towards the dullness of their suburban, post modern existence.

  2. Hi James,

     

    You make an interesting point, which, however, does not explain how comes and from the “healthier” children of the second category (the miserable) there are produced worse societies! If you were true, we should admit that all of these children, instead of preparing a better future, they grow to become essentially similar to the parents and societies they were denying when being young.

     

    I don’t have enough knowledge of the life in Ireland, but do you have enough knowledge of England or France? Maybe if you had, you would understand in Ireland a better life, even during these times of global consumerism. At least this is what I understand when I compare Greece with England or France, although I am very critical of consumerist trends in modern Greek life.

     

    E.g. parents in Greece (for the moment) do not train their children to become “jungle survivors”, even when they think they do it! There is hospitality, open heart, spontaneous and strong dedication to friends, elements too rare in other countries, not to mention faith in God and the living experience of God to be found in surprisingly many young and old people.

     

    Let me repeat that I don’t have enough evidence to speak about Ireland, but after reading the UNICEF report, my general feeling is that life in Ireland (family life, friendships, etc) must be better than in England, despite the corrupt elements we all share to various degrees.

  3. James

    Hi E-Blog

    I think the essential difference between England and Ireland, relates to what, still one historically would call the “national temperament ” of a country. This “temperament” is perhaps the most important part of any country’s culture, as its the most readily encountered facet of what can be “said” about any country’s identity, i.e. the Irish are all fun loving, easy going people, the English are all reserved…..

    Of course, many of these things that are often spoken about, are either false are totally exaggerated, stereotyped clichés. However, in a world that is increasingly becoming culturally homogenised, through pop culture, advertising, the spread of the “shopping mall” culture to nearly every corner of the globe, people, still need this deeply rooted “sense” of what is different in other cultures and races, in order to define “themselves” as something more, than a mere disposable, consumerist, knick-knack, that can be bought and sold like any other “item” upon the world stage of the “culture industry”. It’s in the Individual’s, often unconscious recognition, that he or she is too nothing more than the isolated “item” they see before them in the shopping malls, and are encouraged to consume without guilt, that we still see people, desperately, clinging to the roots of that impulse, that in a typically stereotyped fashion hangs on to the last dregs of their own culture, by either denouncing the number of foreigners arriving in their country, or by heading to the nearest travel shop, in order to escape from the emptiness of their own lands, in order to spend “quality” time around the Greeks or Spanish, who are always happy!

    In England, the above phenomena is very common. Unlike the Irish, the English know the damage that the Industrial Revolution caused in their country, they know how damaging it was and still is, to build huge sprawling suburban concrete housing complexes into their green agricultural belts, and how these soulless grey places can produce people and their offspring who feel “miserable” about life. Such types of wrong-headed “planning” always seem to occur in Societies, that forget their roots, whether it disguised in the language of the EU and the European left, who don’t really believe nor understand the notion of why each European state, should be seen as been culturally unique, nor can a country’s unique cultural identity exist intact, once global consumerism has become the main “defining” context in any country’s life-blood.

    In England, I think there’s at least an awareness’ about how much they have lost of their own culture to these two forces.

    Regards

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