It comes from Viv Groskop:
As Jill Lepore wrote in her brilliant report on child protection in the US in the New Yorker in February, historically speaking we have only really very recently come to regard children as human beings at all. Let alone as human beings who may know better than adults what’s good for them. And suddenly they have an awful lot of agency. Maybe too much agency?
No ‘maybe’ about it, Viv…
But the main message coming out of The Orange Street News story was that every nine-year-old has a right to go around reporting on murders if they damn well want to. And shame on you for curtailing a child’s freedom of expression if you try to stop her! The same logic would seem to dictate that every teenager has the right to decide which parent they side with in a divorce, regardless of the feelings and opinions of the adults involved. Here’s the message: the child knows best. Leave the child alone.
Along with ‘Children don’t lie about abuse!’, this is probably one of the most damaging left-wing notions ever conceived…
In reality, this is just as toxic a kneejerk reaction as the traditional opposite: “Mummy and Daddy know best.” “Children should be seen and not heard.” “No one cares what you think.” Thank heavens these dismissive attitudes are seen as old fashioned and wrong, but what they’re being replaced with is no better. Because children don’t know best any more than adults do. And someone needs to be in charge.
Hurrah! Someone needs to say it.
It shouldn’t be that children are never allowed a say. Nor should they necessarily be banned from having a Facebook page under parental supervision where they report on local news if this really is their passion. (Although a murder? Really?)
But more than that they have a right to know that adults are looking after them. And rights can only really be protected by boundaries.
Which is what so many children lack these days. Welcome back to the fold, Viv. More joy in heaven over a sinner who repenteth, and all that…