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Where are the children?

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Yes, where are the children?

 

Very likely watching mind-numbing TV or playing computer games. A step up from that and they might be using an Xbox: they involve communicating with others. They could even, now and then, be logged into a site doing school work, with half an eye on the TV news. And is that suitable for youngsters to watch, especially alone? It is not: it involves more scenes of violence than most horror movies.

 

Okay, so we get rain, and less daylight hours as autumn arrives. Does nobody play games anymore? Remember the board on the floor to make it easier for small people to reach? Do small people shrink in the rain? Would you? What happened to poo-sticks, picking blackberries, climbing trees, and building a den with your mates? None of the mums and dads can spare time at the weekend to keep a watchful eye?

 

You live in a city? Remember, when you book that holiday, you do have children, not miniature adults to be kept quiet with the latest battery-run games. Sand begs to be made into castles. The sea ripples to the shore, and you do need help to jump higher over every seventh wave. Woods are full of trees, waiting to be climbed… and acorns, and fir cones and conkers are free.

 

Plant an acorn… yes… you can buy a pot if the only garden you have is the balcony of your high-rise flat: if it grows, there are woodland reserves that will give it a home. Conkers! Now they are a health and safety hazard, baked hard with a hole bored through for the string. Are they? Maybe, once in thousands of fights. Fir cones sprayed with glitter decorate a Christmas tree better than “don’t touch” expensive baubles, or scattered as they come on the hearth.

 

What happened to old clothes covered in mud, and wellies stashed in the porch?

 

Where are the children? Safe indoors of course. Really? Do you think today’s children can’t circumvent parental controls on a computer? They’re probably in an adult chat room being groomed by a pervert, or watching porn. They could even be playing games on the Kindle Fire you left when Corrie came on. How long before they find a book and start reading?

 

Reading is good. It is, and if children see you reading they’ll want to do it too. But what are they reading? There are great stories around for children, but that’s not what they’ll find on your Kindle, is it? It could be a book like mine… with luck, it is mine, and I hope you enjoy it, but please keep it away from the under-eighteens.

 

What happened to bedtime stories, shelves full of books parents couldn’t afford, and library tickets?

 

Where are the children?

 

 

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