A Department for Health commissioned survey in 2004 concluded that 1 in 10 British children aged 5-16 are diagnosed with mental disorders. Childhood stress, psychological problems and self-abuse are increasing.
Gone are the hazy days when kids could run free all day and play. Urbanisation has had many implications for childhood play but at the core humans are still 'hunter-gatherers' and need to seek out knowledge of 'being social' through experience and discovery. Through play "children develop… an emergent sense of competence … feelings of 'belonging', 'usefulness', and subsequent well-being." When deprived of play, children lack social connectivity and have less 'mental wellness'. Is lack of play contributing to a dysfunctional society?
Childhood free play is the basis on which individuals develop many crucial social skills which equip them for the intricacies of life in adult communities. UNICEF states, free play in peer groups helps children "learn and practise the control of aggression, the management of conflict, the earning of respect and friendship, discussion of feelings, appreciation of diversity, and awareness of the needs and feelings of others." With play at the core of children's social development, why are we continually degrading it?
Play is a global universal; throughout evolution it has always been important. The authors urge UK/US policy makers to rethink and reinstate the importance of play vs. adult-led learning. They conclude that increased opportunities for free play are the key to organic development of a healthy generation.
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- Pam Jarvis, Stephen Newman, Louise Swiniarski. On ‘becoming social’: the importance of collaborative free play in childhood. International Journal of Play, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/21594937.2013.863440
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Taylor & Francis. "All work and no play for children: Losing their childhood and their happiness?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140305125100.htm>.
Taylor & Francis. (2014, March 5). All work and no play for children: Losing their childhood and their happiness?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 10, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140305125100.htm
Taylor & Francis. "All work and no play for children: Losing their childhood and their happiness?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140305125100.htm (accessed March 10, 2018).
ED GORDON, host:
There's grief. There's sadness. There's anguish. But sometimes, there are no words to describe a loss.
Commentator Karla Holloway says, in her case, there should be one.
Ms. KARLA HOLLOWAY (Author): Although Mother's Day, Memorial Day and Father's Day have passed, there are remains of these days, an absence without a word and without a name, nothing to displace my struggle to say, to explain, that I had, there were, once, when we were whole, there were two children. But one of my children has died and we are, I am, what? Why is there no language to identify us?
I knew what I was when my last parent died. When we stood at our father's casket, my sister and I both knew the word: we were orphans. Adults with families of our own and extended kin, but at that moment, orphaned. It was a loss our language could locate and name, being able to pronounce this as our identity.
And last year, when my sister suffered the death of her husband, she was immediately and publicly a widow. Many years ago, I heard Ladybird Johnson explain that empty was the Sanskrit root for the word widow. I recall the defiance she articulated against the identity of being emptied as if, with President Johnson dead, she was now bereft of any content. Whatever her response to this label, she had a word to reject or embrace, and there was as much resonance for me in that root as there was in her rejection.
Nevertheless, despite the generations of parents whose fate it is to spend their years shadowed by the memories only of the child or children they have lost, there is no name for us. I feel further punished by this empty space of language.
I have struggled with its creation in English. It must be a soft word, quiet, like our grief, but articulate in its claim. Perhaps a blend of shadow and orphan, maybe a word like sharphan? But in my mind, where the sounds of words matter greatly, that has no resonance and seems the artifice it is.
I have thought as well of words that seem connected to widow and child. Maybe wild. But that is only how I feel, not what I am. I think it cannot just be that there is no word possible that would be full enough for this sorrow, specific enough so that no one need question further, a word sufficiently plain so that my stumbles that follow the question, Do you have children? would be managed better than the ways I clumsily respond. I need a stable word.
So I request that those who think about language and text and words and their sounds to consider this assignment. If I cannot, even one whose profession is exactly that, someone who reads and considers the cultures and meanings and words, who lingers over poetry and prose and knows how to parse a sentence and its meaning, if I cannot do this task because I suspect the grief has overwhelmed, I appeal to someone else to craft a word to name parents who have lost a child.
Please consider this an urgent request. Our numbers grow daily. With drive-bys and carelessness, with genocides, and accidents, illnesses, and suicide, war, and, yes, murder, the ways in which our children die multiply. And since we have found no word to bring those horrors to their conclusion, I petition instead for a word, a name that gathers the grief we represent. Send it in care of the post office, just one word, please, that names a parent who has lost a child. All contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by the family.
GORDON: Karla Holloway is the author of Passed On: African-American Mourning Stories. This is NPR News.
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African American Mourning Stories
by Karla F. C. Holloway