The Public Interest

Innocence lost

Diana West

Winter 2000

CONSIDERING contemporary society’s preoccupation with  children, it’s quite logical to conclude that ours is a childcentered culture. From “child-directed” curricula, to “childfriendly”  restaurants, to “kiddiepalooza” rock concerts, the pace and pulse of American life is set according to the desires of the very young to a degree unprecedented in history. How can it be true, at the same time, that childhood itself has never been shorter? In her excellent book, Ready or Not: Why Treating Children as Small Adults Endangers Their Future—and Ours,†  Kay S. Hymowitz explains this paradox, stepping through the looking-glass to offer an original and eye-opening interpretation of the revolutionary way Americans have Oolne to regard and raise their young over the past 50 years. Hymowitz, a contributing editor of City Journal and bona fide child expert (she has three children), convincingly argues that our childcentered culture represents more than a change in manners and mores; it poses an actual threat to the future of the republic.

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