In my 20th book, a novel entitled Childless, I tell the story about a childless child psychologist who tries to foil a U.S government plot to declare childhood as a medical disorder and then eliminate it from the human genome. The novel is a darkly comedic satire about something very serious that is going on in American culture: the physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse of children, and the encroachment of adult values, attitudes, and behaviors onto the institution of childhood. The very things that make children so heartwarming and special–their curiosity, creativity, playfulness, imagination, wonder, inventiveness, and humor (traits that have been refined over a million years of evolution and natural selection)–are under assault from all sides (see my page on The Natural Genius of Children). Here are 14 indicators of how this is happening in America today:
Another disturbing sign of the disappearance of childhood according to the New York Times, is the fact that girls are starting puberty at earlier and earlier ages, with many developing breasts at ages as young as 6 or 7. A similar pattern, though less extreme, has been observed in boys. Some scientists believe this may be linked to increased exposure to blue light emanating from computer screens that kids spend too much time staring at.
In addition, statistics indicate that the number of families with no children has increased in the United States over the last two decades. Whether this is a result of rising infertility or socio-economic factors, the Institute for Family Studies says that ”family life in America is changing: marriage is increasingly being postponed, cohabitation is rising, more young people are living with parents (or grandparents), and childbearing is falling.” We are literally becoming more and more (on many different levels) a childless nation.
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