Shifting Sands

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Certain recent articles (linked to throughout the post) have gotten me thinking about the way that society is treating children in this age. I haven't seen a lot of research on this topic, and I'd love it if someone could point me in the direction of some studies. In the Victorian age, children were treated more or less as short adults. Society quite happily sent nine year olds down mines, and even younger children into factories and other menial jobs. Shorpy has some brilliant photos of kids hard at work. Around this time, children were considered to be no more than adults who weren't quite grown yet, and mostly they were treated (and beaten) as such. As time has gone on the pendulum, as in so many cases, has swung and children have gradually received more and more rights, and been viewed by society in a changing light. By the fifties children were still expected to be 'seen and not heard' but they were also - in most westernised countries - protected by child-labour laws. Child abuse (in terms of beatings by parents as well in sexual terms) was still pretty much ignored, but there was a growing trend towards children staying in school longer, and most beatings occurred behind closed doors. And the pendulum has continued to swing in the same direction - now children are protected not just by minimum-age labour laws but also laws that determine how many hours and on what days they can work, minimum wage and other labour laws. There are ongoing campaigns to 'think of the children' (which segues quite nicely into Conroy's Folly, but I'm not going to go into that here) and a burgeoning desire for - and delivery of - crackdowns on 'kiddy porn', leading to such nonsense as the baby swinging incident and the Simpsons Porn bust.

When does the pendulum start to swing back? I'm not advocating a return to Victorian ideals, and I certainly don't condone the fifties version either, but surely we can strike a happy balance here? Why can't we recognise that child porn is bad, people making and distributing child porn ought to reprimanded, and paedophilia should not be tolerated, but do it with just a touch of reason? Child porn and paedophilia should not be accepted, but why do we overreact so badly? Do we rezone apartment buildings because a potential murderer could spy on a potential victim?

We need to stop and realise that a crime that involves a child is horrible, sickening even, but it is still a crime - just like any other crime. It's bad, yes, but it's no worse (and in many cases, quite a lot better) than what adults do to other adults. Punish the crime, but stop putting such a high moral judgement on the thing.

Oh, and as for cartoon porn? If anyone actually got off on it, they'd make magazines of it with non-see-through covers and put it on newstands, or the websites would want your credit card number. It's not porn, it's humour. Get it? No, I didn't think so. ::sigh::



Anonymous said... Just writing to say thanks on that articale bruce put up crediting you, thanks, I'm chris Illingworth and by the time i have finished with "Task Force Agus" it just may change the law because this sure enough is not covered in the Criminal Code. I can be emailed at

Loquacity said...

Hey Chris,

Thanks for stopping by! Best of luck with everything, and please stop back and let me know how it all goes. I'm fascinated by this topic.


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