Fran Abrams ponders the increasing anxiety about the children in our midst:
The endless fretting – about abuse, about unhealthy lifestyles, educational underachievement, criminality – is in fact fuelled by fear of the unknown. Everyone assumes that his own family is doing a good job . . . but is someone else sneaking rotten apples into the barrel? Will the next generation be strong enough to protect and nurture this one in its dotage?
Perhaps the great mystery about children today is not why they continue to suffer from abuse, neglect and overindulgence. It is why the adult world continues to worry so intensely about these things. After all, there is much to celebrate. A child born in the UK in 2010 can expect to live to be 80 years old; the average child born in 1910 lived to the age of 50. Of every 1,000 children born in the UK in 2010, just five will die before their fifth birthday; a hundred years earlier, 140 of every 1,000 did not survive infancy. Before the Second World War, three in every 100 children went to university; by 2010, about one in every two.