Suffer the Little Children…



The other night there was a piece on the TV news in which a child psychologist bemoaned the fact that children were being frightened by news about the Climate Emergency, suggesting that we should tone it down and perhaps not mention it in schools – I don’t remember the precise details – to which I said ‘Good! Children need to be frightened by it!’

That didn’t go down too well with my wife, who naturally felt that children shouldn’t be frightened.

And usually I would agree with that, but as unfeeling as it might sound I think it is right that they should be frightened by what is happening. It is their future which is inevitably going to be impacted by the actions we do or do not take in the next few years. Their future which our inaction will damage or destroy. And at the moment, that future looks none too promising.

If they are frightened they are likely to raise the issue with their parents, and the resulting conversation may result in more adults learning how imperative it is we take action, and perhaps beginning to add their voices to the demands for action.

And they will be far more frightened if their homes and schools are flooded, or their neighbourhood catches fire, or armed conflict breaks out, all of which look increasingly likely unless we really DO SOMETHING!

It is the actions taken by concerned and frightened children which have become school strikes, and which have led to the formation of Extinction Rebellion, and which may ultimately lead to a people-led drive to finally take meaningful action to try to prevent catastrophe.

So, sad as it seems, they need to be frightened.

We all need to be frightened.

49 thoughts on “Suffer the Little Children…

  1. Absolutely right. The feeling of fear protects us because it makes us react. We get tingly toes or fingers if we stand on the edge of a cliff. Rightly so. We feel adrenaline coursing through our veins if we see an axe-wielding murderer. Rightly so. Fear makes us step back from the edge or run like fury. It makes us react. That young European girl … I think she’s only 14 or something has made a great impact re climate change. The young can make such a difference and they need to be aware from an early age. They can’t just live in a little bubble with their mobile phones taking selfies. Gosh, I think I’m a little feisty this morning! Great post as ever!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with you that children should (as with adults) be extremely concerned about the implications of climate change. However extreme fear (the rabbit caught in headlights kind, where the animal can not act/move out of the way as it is paralysed by fear) is not healthy. Children do need to discuss (and act/get adults to act) to mitigate climate change, but frightening them witless is not the answer. As regards armed conflict, I think this is very unlikely here in the UK. However the effects of climate change on migration (causing more people to seek refuge here) is a real concern. Its likely the UK will be less affected than some other countries (of course severe floods, worsening over time is a real possibility), but compared to many other countries we can, I think survive. Kevin


  3. The problem is how the message us being delivered. Frightening children causes anxiety, which leads to kids being in anti depressants and other drugs to help maintain balance. Children need to be taught about climate change in the same way they should be taught about anything life threatening, in a manner that shows the importance yet also let’s them understand on the maturity level that they’re at. And we all have to act in a responsible manner. I live in a liberal pro climate respinsibily city and yet I see more large cars, and more garbage and socially irresponsible behavior. We need to teach them by using actions that begit the seriousness of the situation, not use words that will scare them into retreat and make them feel more powerless than they actually are

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with that to a degree, and it’s not a position I take lightly. We certainly don’t want to cause them any damage, but this is so urgent, so important, so critical, that it is imperative they realise the urgency. Kids have a lot of power, more than any of that age in previous generations and they are beginning to influence the debate to a degree I would never have believed possible ten years ago.

      If we can’t sort this out in the very near future, the next generation will grow up truly terrified.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My daughters college is holding a conference in climate change tomorrow, and some of the democratic hopefuls will be attending. She’ll be volunteering, so I’m interested in hearing her take on what’s being said as well as student reaction

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Frightened…. maybe. Concerned, motivated, activated, and empowered, absolutely. Given the tools and shown how to lead by example, yes! And it starts with us, the (so-called) adults. Fear initiates motivation but does not sustain useful or productive action for long. If we frighten the kids, we have to go further and give them the tools to cope with that fear and turn it into positive action.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We must do that, yes. They must fear for what is happening and learn they have the means to do something about it. Knowing we can do something may lead us into complacency, and thereby prevent us taking that step. Add fear, and that action becomes an imperative.


  5. While I am not normally an advocate of frightening children, an anxious child might be just the thing to finally awaken parents to the grave danger adult apathy and inaction have led to. We’re naïve if we think we can protect children or shield them from fright. What we should be doing is helping children learn how to channel their fear into effective activism. Adults have fallen short on protecting children and creating a better world for the next generation. We need to remedy that—and fast—or else get out of the way of the children who see what needs to be done and are doing it! I agree with you, Mick.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Fear and love are two basic instincts and assist us in our growth. Children of today are kept under the umbrella of protection, which makes them immune to the challenges the world is facing. If they are entitled to exposure of good things, they need to have a balanced view of all that is happening around us. Fear can never be rooted out of human psyche.
    Isn’t it ironic that a child of Kindergarten is trained to save himself from “bad guys” and potential earthquakes and being kept away from climate change? Talk to that child and he would tell you what is fear!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Children are frequently stronger than we think, and often better at reasoning than we imagine. It is foolish to inculcate a fear of one thing in children yet seek to keep them oblivious of possibly greater dangers. Thank you for those comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with LA that it depends on how the message is delivered. As a teacher, I taught the facts, that the thinking and problem solving process. We ask how they can come up with ideas to solve the problems. Hiding the problems doesn’t make our children leaders, scientists, and business people.

    So we don’t scare the kids. We present the facts and have them help us solve the problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m right behind you Mick, everyone should be frightened by climate issues. Especially children as they are the future and are the ones that may have a chance to right a few of the terrible wrongs that our generation have made.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – I’m the same generation. Sticking brown paper over windows was meant to be a good one. And we were frightened stiff, but we couldn’t do anything about it. But the kids growing up now are the ones who have to tackle the climate catastrophe head-on. They need to be prepared.


  9. I always feel that most economies only take action for an eyewash. The trouble is no one wants pain. No one wants discomfort. The saving of the environment has become a business. Brands demand more money in the name of environment-friendly products. Nothing wrong in that but often, on probing more on their claims, they have no answer. For example, plastic bags came out as an alternative to paper bags – save trees and much cheaper. These days brands have switched back to paper. Instead, we should avoid using either. Carrying a cloth bag from home is what we need. But who will bell the cat?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a complicated system, as it has developed over the years. But I think the focus has to be on a) removing as much plastic as possible from our lives, b) planting as many trees as we can – billions of them! – and c) removing fossil fuels from our lives completely within the next 5 to 10 years. The only chance we have of approaching those targets will be if the public pressure governments at every opportunity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with all your poiints. The whole issue is that nexus of government with commercial interests will never let it happen. All measures are an eye wash. Seems like they are doing something but in reality, nothing much happens.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Totally agree, Mick, as sad as it sounds because it’s the only way things will change. Prior generations are doing nothing, either because they themselves are too scared, they see the problem as too big to fix, or they just don’t care. Whatever it is, action is called for, something more than Mike Pompeo’s response which is something like, oh goody, now we can open up shipping routes through the arctic. Truly clueless. 😡🤦‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

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