Paul Routledge: Childhood’s now a lonely world of lost innocence… – Paul Routledge


It’s a fair bet my daughters were the last generation to enjoy a traditional childhood.

They grew up free from the pressures of social media harassment, celeb culture, naked selfies, gender confusion and endless school testing.

Throw in the fathomless idiocy of Love Island, end-of-the-world Greta Thunberg and internet porn, and you have a perfect cocktail of despair for today’s youngsters.

No wonder the Children’s Society reports a “national scandal” of rapidly increasing child unhappiness.

In the long holiday, our girls went out in the morning and came back in the evening. They went where they liked and did what they liked.

Just like my time. As lads, we ran wild, summer and winter, in games we made up. We re-fought the Second World War with guns made from wood and nails. We skated down pit stacks on bits of conveyor belt.


The girls weren’t in our Railway Terrace gang. I noticed them occasionally, skipping and playing hopscotch. Lasses came much later, and if somebody had mentioned pornography, I’d have thought it was a branch of geography.

Innocence, all lost. Enough to make you weep for today’s younger generation.

Almost a quarter of a million UK kids are “unhappy with their lives as a whole”.

They’re worried about crime, the environment, school, personal appearance, friends, the future – and life at home. That’s the worst.

Home was always the safe refuge from all the bad things.

Not any more. The bedroom is now a This-and-That-Gram battleground of hatred, envy and bullying, where relationships wither and die before they can bloom.

The Children’s Society believes that the answer is government monitoring of 11-18-year-olds as they go through school. That’s far too late – the damage is done by then.

And politicians are not the right people to mature the nation’s children. That’s the job of parents, and of young people themselves, if they can acquire an inner toughness to cope with the commercialised nightmare of modern life.


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