Monday, 15 March 2010

'People of Importance' - are we over-protecting our children?

When I read Michele Webber's most recent blog, in which she comments on the present-day hazards of sketching or even photographing children, something rang a bell. It's been loitering in the back of my head all day and suddenly I remembered that I thought exactly the same thing when browsing through a couple of my all-time favourite books, 'Important People' and 'People of Importance' by the illustrator, J. H Dowd.

His observation of children in the 1930s is enchanting but I should imagine there would be many a raised eyebrow, at the very least, if he were to produce something like this today!

 Notice the detail of the anxious nanny hurrying over the horizon towards the toddler and his new friend. But sadly, today, I think she would be more likely to be dialling 999 on her mobile!

The gruesome story of little Jamie Bulger has been in the news again recently and the irony is that he was not off running wild in the woods when he was lead to his tragic death, but in a shopping centre with his mother.

It's difficult to know whether there is really more abuse taking place these days than there was eighty years ago, or whether it's just that we are made more aware of it. But I do know that, in our well-meant bid to protect children from harm, they are missing a lot of the opportunities to explore, to have adventures and to exercise their imaginations, that I had as a child. And that is a pity.

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