The notion that children are people too

I had been meaning to post on this topic for a while but the combination of this rather brilliant dissection of Nigel Latta’s  Politically Incorrect Show and #youngkidsshouldbebannedfrom trending globally on twitter a few weeks months ago got me thinking about this topic again.

First up Nigel Latta. At times I have at times found myself in agreement with some of the stuff he says, about parents choosing not escalate confrontation and trying to support their children’s education. But more often than not I find myself yelling at the TV in much the same manner as a sports fan when he starts using children as the punchlines for his jokes and have long since stopped watching.

It's hard work rebelling against PC parents, that's why I became a nerd. (comic from

I admit that I am probably not in Latta’s target audience. I was raised by a SAHD for large parts of my childhood whose first reaction when my sister and I dressed our baby brother up in party dresses was to grab the camera rather than freak out. I’m pretty sure this type of urban liberal upbringing makes me Political Correctness personified and therefore I just don’t ‘get’ the punchline of the jokes.

Or perhaps the problem with being ‘Politically Correct’ is that I understand that the Politically Incorrect show is engaging in what political scientists call dog whistling. What the show tends to do a lot of is taking an absurd situation as an example of ‘politically correctness gone mad’  then using it as a way to get a message across, that children in society need to be put in their place by adults. Of course it is window dressed in language such as parents needing to relax and use a bit of common sense with a few laughs about the silly things kids/teenagers do thrown in for good measure.

But the problem with this method communicating is that it takes place within a context of society in which adults already have a considerable amount of power over children and we aren’t too welcoming of children’s presence within it.

Consider some of the tweets #youngkidsshouldbebannedfrom

  • any public places I can’t stand their screaming
  • the word love they don’t even know what it means
  • all technology and have a chalkboard and crayons instead.
  • going to the movies and sitting behind me.
  • speaking. they should be seen and not heard. i hate kids. full stop.
  • cellphone. I hate it when I see a 5 years old child with a BB or an iPhone!
  • Making music. We have enough terrible music by talentless artists in the charts as it is
I know the statements were written by a bunch of twits on twitter but I’m trying to think of another group in society who could be blatantly targeted on social media with such hateful statements without an outcry and I’m drawing a blank. So when Latta makes jokes they aren’t happening in a vacuum. There are some really nasty undertones towards the place of children in our society. What’s more when you when you tell people it is ok to feel angry with their kids, but don’t say how angry or what they should do with that anger you run the risk of tacitly endorsing a range of attitudes and behaviours far wider and potentially far more destructive than you may have intended. For instance is tying up a 10 year old child shaving his head against his will and washing his mouth out with soap an example of typical parenting practices? I should hope not but the jury in the case said this sort of behaviour was ok.But what does this have to do with education? After all teachers are bound by a whole bunch of ethical and legal obligations to treat the children under care with respect and kindness and presumably got into the business of teaching because they like children.

For teachers it means you need to be aware of the privilege that you bring into your relationships with your students.  Some of those statements are quite confronting and might even make you a bit uncomfortable. Think about why you are uncomfortable rather than just dismissing the idea out of hand. But more importantly take the time to get to know your students and really listen to what they have to say.

Because more than anyone teachers need to believe in the notion that children are people too.
H/T to Deborah for the link.

4 thoughts on “The notion that children are people too

Add yours

  1. When individual children are treated like this – direct or at first or second remove – it bleeds into the groups that are treated like children (for example any group with “the” in front of it), and the groups that children are part of.

    And that people can be banned from loving and speaking and doing the things that people do!

    I would really like the people who want young kids banned to really think about how this contradicts children being in the world, just as they are.

    Indeed it is a radical notion: “that children are people too”.


    1. Hi Adelaide,
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. You are right that the comments directed at children have been directed at others during history and it is not ok.



  2. The trouble with Nigel Latta’s psychology, among other things, is it’s not scientific. Any fellow psychologists who offer studies showing his claims about teenager-adult interaction give poor results, are labeled as ‘politically correct’ and therefore wrong. Imagine if there was a scientist on TV claiming that Darwin was a politically correct liberal, and the world is in fact only 200 years old, and we all arrived here from a spaceship. No one would take that seriously. But if someone chose to believe their ancestors arrived by spaceship, it would hurt no one. Yet if someone chooses to believe that teenagers sometimes self-harm to get attention (a claim in his book), the results could be catastrophic to themselves and their teenage son or daughter.

    Fortunately there are dozens of excellent books on teenage psychology out there. I recently finished ‘Reviving Ophelia’ – great look at the lives of teenage girls in the 1990s.

    Teenagers need to write a book called ‘the politically incorrect guide to middle aged adults’ as an alternative to Latta’s book 😉


    1. Hi,
      Thanks for the comment. I think you hit the nail on the head in regards to the problem being about communication rather than anything inherently wrong with either teenagers or their middle aged parents.



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