Cover image for Childhood under siege : how big business targets children
Title:
Childhood under siege : how big business targets children
Author:
ISBN:
9781439121207

9781439121221
Edition:
1st Free Press hardcover ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, 2011.
Physical Description:
x, 277 p. ; 24 cm.
Contents:
The century of the child -- Whack your soul mate and boneless girl -- The new cirriculum of childhood -- Prescriptions for profit -- Pom-poms for pills -- A dangerous and unnatural experiment -- Precautionary tales -- In our own backyard -- Race to nowhere -- Narrowing minds.
Summary:
"Corporations have found a new resource to be mined for profit: our children. In this shocking and indelible behind-the-scenes journey, Joel Bakan, acclaimed author and award-winning maker of the renowned film and international bestselling book The Corporation, uncovers the astonishing degree to which companies exploit the special vulnerabilities of children, manipulate parents' fears, and operate with callous disregard for children's health and well-being. The number of children taking dangerous psychotropic drugs has skyrocketed as pharmaceutical companies employ insidious, often illegal tactics to inflate diagnoses of disorders and convince parents their children require medication. A highly sophisticated marketing industry deploys increasingly subtle and powerful tactics to play on children's intense emotions and desires and to lure them into obsessive consumerism. Computer game designers craft techniques to titillate children with sex and violence, while social media developers infiltrate and shape children's social and emotional worlds to compel them to spend more and more monetizable time online. America's schools are being transformed into profit centers while children are subjected to increasingly regimented teaching that thwarts curiosity and creativity, numbing the joy of learning. And children's chronic health problems, from asthma to cancer, autism, and birth defects, steadily escalate as thousands of new industrial chemicals are dumped into their environments. Nelson Mandela once sagely remarked that "there can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way it treats its children." The problem today, as Joel Bakan reveals, is that business interests have made protecting children extremely difficult. Corporations pump billions into rendering parents and governments powerless to shield children from an unrelenting commercial assault, with the result that after a century of progress, during which protective laws and regulations were widely promulgated, children are once again exposed to substantial harms at the hands of economic actors. Childhood Under Siege leaves no room for doubt that this assault on childhood is a major crisis of our time. A powerful manifesto for urgent change, it empowers us to shield our own children while offering concrete and realistic proposals for legal reforms that would protect all children from these predatory practices. "--Publisher's description
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Summary

Summary

Corporations have found a new resource to be mined for profit: our children . In this shocking and indelible behind-the-scenes journey, Joel Bakan, acclaimed author and award-winning maker of the renowned film and international bestselling book The Corporation , uncovers the astonishing degree to which companies exploit the special vulnerabilities of children, manipulate parents' fears, and operate with callous disregard for children's health and well-being.

The number of children taking dangerous psychotropic drugs has skyrocketed as pharmaceutical companies employ insidious, often illegal tactics to inflate diagnoses of disorders and convince parents their children require medication. A highly sophisticated marketing industry deploys increasingly subtle and powerful tactics to play on children's intense emotions and desires and to lure them into obsessive consumerism. Computer game designers craft techniques to titillate children with sex and violence, while social media developers infiltrate and shape children's social and emotional worlds to compel them to spend more and more monetizable time online. America's schools are being transformed into profit centers while children are subjected to increasingly regimented teaching that thwarts curiosity and creativity, numbing the joy of learning. And children's chronic health problems, from asthma to cancer, autism, and birth defects, steadily escalate as thousands of new industrial chemicals are dumped into their environments.

Nelson Mandela once sagely remarked that "there can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way it treats its children." The problem today, as Joel Bakan reveals, is that business interests have made protecting children extremely difficult. Corporations pump billions into rendering parents and governments powerless to shield children from an unrelenting commercial assault, with the result that after a century of progress, during which protective laws and regulations were widely promulgated, children are once again exposed to substantial harms at the hands of economic actors.

Childhood Under Siege leaves no room for doubt that this assault on childhood is a major crisis of our time. A powerful manifesto for urgent change, it empowers us to shield our own children while offering concrete and realistic proposals for legal reforms that would protect all children from these predatory practices.


Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

Bakan (Law/Univ. of British Columbia;The Corporation, 2005) argues that corporations "resemble human psychopaths in their essential natures," and he calls for government regulation of big business, citing examples sure to make parents take notice.Children are bombarded with images of sex and violence, and the advent of new media makes it increasingly difficult for parents to control what children view. According to Bakan, two popular Internet games that contain murder and misogyny"Whack Your Soulmate" and "Boneless Girl"attract children with addictive qualities and are brought to us by a flagship site for Nickelodeon. The author even goes as far as blaming the fast-food industry for childhood obesity; though parents make the ultimate dietary decisions, he writes, they are heavily influenced by the "nagging" of children. Bakan discusses several crimes of the Western corporate world, including the proliferation of harmful chemicals (phthalates and lead) in Dora the Explorer activity totes and Wal-Mart's child-labor--law violations. Most shocking is the author's example of hundreds of thousands of U.S. migrant children working in fields for hours with few breaks, exploited by big farms. The author notes that governments "are alone in being able, through the enactment of laws and regulations, to change, for the better, the conditions in which parents make choices for their children." Bakan provides many disturbing statistics and examples, but little in the way of solutions.A provocative argument heavy on emotion but light on economic ramifications.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* As a nation, we've moved from a progressive era of protecting childhood to a time of cultural domination by heartless corporations freed of regulation and obligations to protect or at least do no harm to children. Consequently, a relentless marketing machine targets children, researching their wants and needs and deliberately undermining parental authority, says Bakan, author of the highly acclaimed The Corporation (2004). He carefully details how marketers callously study children and adolescents and then, using sex and violence, manipulate their vulnerable emotions to cultivate consumerism and compulsive behaviors through television programming based on products to social media networks that captivate them and dominate their personal identities. He goes on to detail how pharmaceutical companies influence medical science to justify targeting psychotropic drugs to children, how corporations dump chemicals without regard to their potential to harm children, and how school systems are increasingly dominated by corporations more interested in making profits than educating children. All of this is happening while the government, concerned about protecting commerce, declines to put the interest of children first. Bakan offers passionate argument and copious research in this compelling call for parents to stand up for their children.--Bush, Vaness. Copyright 2010 Booklist


Choice Review

Bakan (law, Univ. of British Columbia) critiques corporate indifference and malevolence toward children. Historically, the progressive impulse to protect the vulnerable, especially children, was interrupted in 1980 when conservatives assumed leadership of the US and the UK. Absent regulatory protections of the state, corporations ran amok, marketing all sorts of pernicious products to children: violent and sexually explicit video games, off-label psychoactive medications, fat- and sugar-laden foods that contribute to obesity, narcotics of choice to adolescents, the commodification of education through a rigorous regime of tests and corporate takeover of public schools, and items containing an endless list of chemicals that had not been tested for toxicity. To this Bakan adds the lack of enforcement of child labor laws in the convergence of factors that bode ill for children. The author contends that vigorous application of the "precautionary principle" can preclude the worst of such influences until scientific evidence confirms their harmful effects and they are banned. Related books are Paul Tough's Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America (2008) and Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (CH, Nov'05, 43-1883). Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduate and graduate libraries. D. Stoesz Virginia Commonwealth University