Found this when I was touring the NY Times archives, it’s from a 1983 article titled “The Loss of Childhood”
The greatest change of all, however, is not that children have lost their innocence. (An article on that subject, ”What Became of Childhood Innocence?” by Marie Winn, appeared in this magazine Jan. 25, 1981.) It is a change in our conception of childhood itself. We have seen, in an amazingly short span of time, a transformation of society’s most fundamental attitudes toward children. Where parents once felt obliged to shelter their children from life’s vicissitudes, today, great numbers of them have come to operate according to a new belief: that children must be exposed early to adult experience in order to survive in an increasingly uncontrollable world. The Age of Protection has ended. An Age of Preparation has set in. And children have suffered a loss. As they are integrated at a young age into the adult world, in every way their lives have become more difficult, more confusing – in short, more like adult lives.
The Age of Protection did not end because of a deliberate Page 20-21 decision to treat kids in a new way; it ended out of necessity. For children’s lives are always a mirror of adult life. The great social upheavals of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s -the so-called sexual revolution, the drug epidemic, the women’s movement, the breakdown of the conventional two-parent family, the spread of psychoanalytic thinking and the proliferation of television – each of these created changes in adult life that necessitated new ways of dealing with children.
No one of these changes alone could have brought about the emergence of a brave new relationship between adults and children. It was the confluence of these factors in the beginning of the 1970’s that swiftly altered children’s lives. Only with the rise in twocareer families and with the mounting divorce rate did parents have cause to withdraw their close attention from children and reduce the careful supervision that had once made the very possibility of sixth graders drinking or smoking marijuana unthinkable. Only with the help of television was the actual decrease in supervision made possible: With the kids sedated into reliable passivity, parents could more easily pursue their own imperatives. Only as the fatalistic principles of Freudian psychology became part of every adult’s general knowledge did parents’ confidence in their basic ability to supervise their school-age children begin to fail them.
Read the Whole thing HERE