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Toxic Childhood: How The Modern World Is Damaging Our Children And What We Can Do About It Paperback – 3 May 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (3 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752873598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752873596
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 547,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sue Palmer has written over two hundred books, articles and TV programmes for the education market, including How to Teach Writing Across the Curriculum and Speaking Frames (David Fulton). She's been involved in many campaigns around education, outdoor play, screen-based entertainment and the commercialisation of childhood. The Evening Standard listed her among the twenty most influential people in British education in 2009.

Product Description


Horribly convincing (INDEPENDENT)

The title has become shorthand for everything that's wrong with children's lives from excessive testing at school to violent computer games, sex, drugs and alcohol. (EVENING STANDARD)

A fascinating account of the problems facing kids today... it contains solid parenting advice on subjects ranging from diet to childcare. (SAINSBURY'S MAGAZINE)

'A splendid book that draws together a vast swathe of the most authoritative research from a whole range of fields and disciplines ¿ that together explain ¿the worsening behaviour of children and the explosion in numbers of special needs pupils¿ (THE MOTHER)

Every parent should read this book, as it does contain a wealth of information you should know (EVENING HERALD)

Book Description

One in six children in the developed world is diagnosed as having 'developmental or behavioural problems', and the number is rising by 25% each year - this book explains why and shows what can be done about it

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

162 of 172 people found the following review helpful By sceptical on 29 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
As somebody with extensive experience of Scandinavian childrearing, I was intrigued to see how selectively the author quotes Scandinavian practices in relation to the findings of greater happiness and greater powers of concentration in these children. Scandinavia features prominently in her chapter on education, as a counterpart to the vicious effects of the early British school start and the result-centered education approach, neither of which she approves of. Scandinavian children are happier, they start school later, therefore we have proved the benefits of the late school start. Well, yes, maybe we have, but I notice that in other areas where practices differ between countries, Scandinavia doesn't get a look in. For instance, Scandinavian parents routinely let their children come into bed with them, because they have never been told that this is the sign of bad parenting. How come Palmer doesn't tell us this and relate it to the greater happiness reported by these youngsters? Nor are we informed that virtually all Scandinavian children attend full time day care from an early age (housewives being a virtually extinct species). So how do we know which of these is the decisive factor? Perhaps it's the night time cuddles, Palmer? Or the happy day care centres? Or something totally different that your Scandinavian sources forgot to tell you about. Research your study is not. As every properly qualified researcher knows, to be able to draw accurate conclusions, you have to isolate one factor, everything else being equal. Not tell anecdotes about a child looking grumpy on the steps of the Uffizi and speculate for several paragraphs on her parents' television habits.Read more ›
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By John Williams TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was tempted to begin by saying that anyone who reads this book probably doesn't need to, but maybe there are parents out there who would find it useful. Parents who sense that something is wrong with childhood, but can't put their finger on it and would like some clues as to where to begin putting it right. Simple measures like taking the TV out of children's bedrooms, and aiming for the 'authoritative' (as opposed to 'authoritarian') style of parenting. This is a fairly authoritative book, anyway. Sue Palmer has done a lot of research. She puts her views and advice across in a readable style. For those who find it a bit skimpy there are plenty of references at the end of each chapter for further reading and web sites to visit. It's a bit of a rant, and I felt it was getting rather repetetive towards the end (hence only four stars), but Palmer does put her case across very convincingly, and I for one wouldn't disagree with her. I certainly wouldn't write her off as being illiberal or old fashioned, despite her yearning for 'old fashioned' values and advocacy of greater state support for parenting. Not sure about the 'mind the gap' section at the end of each chapter. These sections were supposedly intended to relate the advice in the main body of each chapter to the lives of the poorest families in western societies, but I thought they were a bit unnecessary and slightly sinister. As someone who brought up children twenty and more years ago, now has grandchildren, and works with children and families, I could relate to this book, and thought it full of good advice and ideas. Anyone could benefit by reading it, but it is aimed primarily at parents of young children. I hope that lots of them will read it, and put the advice into practice. As it says at the end of the book, 'We might even be in time to save the world.'
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A. P. Swift on 25 April 2007
Format: Paperback
Ever heard someone talking disparagingly about the "youth of today"? Ever thought that kids today seem unable to hold a conversation, behavioural disorders seem to by on the rise and that the old - fashioned adage of respecting your elders has withered away?

Sue Palmer neatly labels this as "toxic childhood syndrome" - and we soon see how apt this diagnosis is as she produces a mind - boggling cocktail of causes, consequences and potential cures.

Ingredients such as sleep deprivation, family time, television and advertising and others are placed under the microscope, and you could say that this book is a societal autopsy which yields alarming results. Sue Palmer treads with caution, however, in urging us to resist the common temptation to brazenly lay blame in one area, (ie the parents). What arises from these factors is a vicious circle of epic proportions.

Importantly for a book with so much to offer, her findings are laid out in bite - sized sections. More importantly still, Palmer keeps a tight reign on herself and never digresses into the patronising tone that often accompanies books on this topic. Each chapter is succinctly rounded up with practical suggestions that can be adopted to suit the needs of individual children.

Her many years of experience in education are obvious from the start, and they provide a solid grounding for her thorough research. Fluent writing and sparse touches of humour maintain the reader's interest and while never light - hearted, Toxic Childhood makes very accessible work of what could easily become depressing subject.

Whether or not you are a teacher, youth worker, parent or anyone else who comes into contact with kids, this book is both an uplifting battle - cry and an essential tool in our understanding of the children of today and of tomorrow.
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