Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Should childhood come with a health warning?

Whether it’s stranger danger, the internet or just playing in the street, our children are portrayed as being in constant danger. The government feels it must launch a campaign this week to encourage children to play outdoors – the way their parents and grandparents always used to. This, in the light of a recent survey that shows that one in four eight-to-ten year olds have never played outside without an adult present; and one in three parents will not even allow older children aged eight to fifteen to play outside the house or garden.

Are we over-protective of our children? Child psychologist and former primary school teacher, Dr Helen Guldberg, certainly thinks so. She believes that an obsession with protecting children from all risks is depriving them of valuable learning experiences.

Putting a different point of view will be Hazel Wigmore, a local champion of children’s causes. Hazel believes that it’s not childhood but parenting that should come with a health warning. Children are more aware of risk than we give them credit for. Maybe we should spend our energies discouraging adults from having children as ‘lifestyle accessories’.

The Salon is an open event for anyone who is interested in a lively discussion. Whether you are a parent, professional, interested in the future of our planet, or even a young person yourself. This promises to be one of our liveliest debates yet, so please come along and hear what the speakers have to say, and join in with your own thoughts.

Tickets £5.00 from The Media Centre reception or by calling 0870 990 5000

The Media Centre, 7 Northumberland Street, Huddersfield HD1 1RL

The Huddersfield Salon is organised by A Fine Bunch of people: an informal grouping of local cultural leaders including senior members of most of the major Kirklees Arts Organisations.

Speakers details:

Dr Hazel Wigmore

Huddersfield-born Hazel Wigmore founded the National Children’s Centre at Brian Jackson House in the town. She pioneered professional standards, training and registration for childminding, and created the Crying Baby Hotline and the Playtrain Nursery at Huddersfield Station. Whilst chairing the National Under-fives Group, she assisted in drafting The Children Act and also chaired the BBC Children in Need Awards panel in the North East and the BBC National Committee on Community Action.

Serving on the Parliamentary All Party Group for Under Fives led to Dr Wigmore succeeding Lady Plowden in chairing the national association for voluntary organisations working with under fives. This in turn gave her the opportunity to work with the Under Secretary of State’s Office in framing the pre-school sections of The Children Act.

Her young people’s work has included pioneering fatherhood classes in youth detention centres and prisons, the SUPERDADS project giving young fathers supervised access to their children and the COOL project for school refusers.

Dr Helene Guldberg

Dr Helene Guldberg is co-founder and Managing Editor of spiked-online, the first custom-built online current affairs publication in the UK. Her writing - in publications from spiked-online and the New Scientist to the Independent and Guardian - specialises on issues of science and society, human psychology and child development.

After working as a primary school teacher for a few years, Guldberg obtained a PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Manchester in 1999. She currently teaches a post-graduate course in child development (as part of an MA in Education) with the Open University, and an undergraduate course in child development at Centres for Academic Programs Abroad (CAPA) and the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES).

She is now working on a book for Vision Paperbacks on children’s lives - exploring how they have changed, and the impact on children’s development.