Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children
In this groundbreaking volume on the human rights of children, acclaimed analyst, political theorist, and biographer Elisabeth Young-Bruehl argues that prejudice exists against children as a group and that it is comparable to racism, sexism, and homophobia. This prejudice--"childism"--
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Q. Are you aware that Elisabeth died in 2011? A. Yes, I saw it on the Internet. She was only 65 and I am a year younger than her. When I first started reading the book, I saw her picture on the book jacket and saw a person in good health, but she died of a coronary embolism. So did my sister, who was only 58 when she died. Embolisms could be genetic. Q. So what about the book? A. I found it confusing. Elisabeth knew a lot about the field of Child Abuse and Neglect and presented a short history of the field. I was hoping, by childism, she would offer more like what she calls the radical children rights people, but she was more conservative than that. Q. What were you hoping she would advocate? A. Like a bill of rights for children, maybe segmented by age. It would include voting rights and the right to work instead of going to school, or just to be truant, if the child chose. Q. Yes, that is too radical. So did Elisabeth present case studies? A. Yes, with the permission of her clients, of course. But these clients were able to afford her fees and lived in the metropolitan New York area. Most of them were highly educated. They were not a representative sample for the population as a whole, I do not think. Q. So would that invalidate her conclusions, the lack of a larger sample? A. Some readers might think so. As for myself, a baby boomer like many of the abusive parents Elisabeth describes (and like herself), I found her case studies odd and hard to believe. I know she was writing the truth of what she found, but in my little world, the things that happened to these men and women, her clients, seem very alien to me. Q. Maybe you are in denial? A. Yes, maybe. Still, I am glad these abuses did not occur in my family. I was spanked, but never hit elsewhere and never after about 4 years. I did not hit or even spank my children, though my wife did. Q. Yes, you are in denial. Can you pay for a shrink? A. No, sorry. Any free services around?