Alan Bennett thinks that closing libraries is “child abuse”, apparently. He's said it twice, once about planned closures in Yorkshire, and more recently in Kensal Green. He said it, of course, because he knew that anything that uses the words “child abuse” automatically makes the headlines.
He shouldn't have done so, though. Such deliberate rabble-rousing ought to be beneath someone who is normally so literate and eloquent, and in any case the claim isn't logical. Some may attempt to justify it (in fact some already have) by saying that library closures could stunt the intellectual development of children. This could be true, but by that token anything that might negatively affect any child is child abuse.
Cutting down a tree is child abuse, because a child might have enjoyed climbing it. Digging up the pavement to lay cable is child abuse because a child might have wanted to ride his bike on it. Driving a car or flying in an airliner or riding in a train is child abuse because a child might breathe the fumes.
Sending a child to school is child abuse because it might get bullied in the playground. Allowing a child to play conkers or play on a climbing frame or swim in the sea is child abuse because it might be injured or drowned.
Or if you insist that the point is denying the child an opportunity, then making it do homework is child abuse because it might be doing other formative things at the time – watching interesting factual programmes on TV, building a robot out of kitchen scraps and string, torturing a hamster etc.
Preventing a child from bullying its little friends is child abuse – how else is it to learn by experience how to interact with those less powerful and aggressive than itself? Stopping your baby from poking its fingers into the electric sockets or climbing up onto the hotplate is child abuse, as it denies the child the opportunity to learn by experience and profit by its mistakes. It's probably going to spend the rest of its childhood wrapped in cotton-wool, after all ...
No, sorry, Mr.Bennett. You of all people ought to be able to choose your words more carefully. Perhaps you thought that's what you were doing, but I'm afraid you've just made yourself look a bit of a pillock.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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