Friday, April 18, 2008

Schematic: The Myth of the "Kid Friendly" Society

In the end, it's the kids who suffer.

Unfortunately, nothing can be done to intervene here because any attempt to do so is actually the same as "raging a war on the things that seek to harm children," which ultimately only perpetuates the cycle. At least there should be no surprises as to why we can never create a "kid-friendly" society for them to grow up in... the innocence construct itself keeps getting in the way.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Disability of Childhood?

People who would equate children with adults often make the observation that the adult world is full of people who display little qualitative difference from children (such as people with various developmental disabilities). On this basis, they make the case that children are simply adults with developmental disabilities and therefore shouldn't be guaranteed any special provisions that adults with similar conditions aren't already able to receive, and that furthermore, to enforce these special provisions for children above adults enforces its own form of ageism.

What this viewpoint ignores is the very real biological differences between children and adults that further differentiate a child from even a disabled adult. A child should not be considered disabled because they fail to perform at adult capacity, because children perform to the capacity that their developing physiology determine on the whole. Children benefit from a comparison to others of their age group because it assists care takers in identifying those who are under performing. Equating an adult's capacities to a child's is an inherently unfair comparison. If a comparison is drawn between children and adults, suddenly every child is considered disabled, their under performance is attributed to their "childhood disability" even if they are in fact very gifted for their age, and it takes the importance off those who are having difficulty.

If childhood were a disability, it would be a very strange one:
  • one hundred percent of the population has it at least once in their life (for the first 12 years);
  • in all healthily maturing individuals who have this disability, its chance of complete remittance is extremely high, if not one hundred percent, within specified and fairly predictable time lines (for example, normally developing children usually begin thinking logically during the concrete observational stage of the disability)
  • its symptoms reveal themselves in almost all areas of functioning, from the physical to the cognitive, from the behavioral to the personality expression (for example, magical thinking, egotistical thinking, lack of awareness of mental states, false beliefs, failing conservation tasks, centration in problem solving, lack of numerical thinking, lack of hypothetical reasoning, lack of adequate physical mobility due to small stature, incomplete perceptions of the physical properties of objects--cause and effect, physiological growth factors influencing drug tolerance and susceptibility to disease, incomplete recognition of the self, incomplete understanding of morality...etc.)
  • that this "disability" can gather other real disabilities around it to confound a child even more so which can be very common over time but not all at once, (for example, learning disabilities, motor skills disorders, conduct disorders, ADHD, ODD, Autism, Aspergers, Separation Anxiety, pica, tic disorders, elimination disorders, attachment issues, mutism...etc.)...etc.
In all seriousness, it seems fairly obvious that childhood shouldn't be considered a disability in the same way that a physical or mental handicap could, whether the individual is a child or an adult. There are many qualitative and quantitative differences between children and adults that have to be respected and attended to in separate but equal ways. Furthermore, a child needs special provisions in our society so that they can physically and mentally participate in the context of the larger adult-centric environment to an equal degree.

It is true that adults can have all these conditions ascribed to childhood, and it's my thinking that all adults maintain these impairments into adulthood, reappearing in different forms and contexts relative to their cognitive and physiological spheres in society, but to equate the two seems completely ignorant to their mutual uniqueness.

Adult-centrism is far more ageist than attending to a child's developmental differences.