The Elephant in the Playroom
Chapter nine identifies the elephant in the room—the threat to children’s well-being posed by globalization. While recognizing the many benefits of globalism, the author identifies six damaging phenomena related to globalization that are degrading the ecology of childhood. These threats are (1) unrestrained capitalism, (2) runaway technological revolution, (3) rising inequality, (4) mass migration, (5) racial and ethnic conflict, and (6) the apocalyptic crisis of climate change. The author shows how these phenomena, far from being distant and abstract from children’s lives, are affecting every level of the ecology of childhood, from the microsystems of family life to the macrosystems that shape national and global agendas. Collectively, these phenomena are responsible for many of the problems already highlighted in the book, including deteriorating wages and working conditions for parents, diminished opportunity for young people to start families, the trauma of family separation and forced migration, and unconscionable rates of child poverty even in rich countries. These troubling developments, if unrecognized and unaddressed, threaten children’s cognitive and social development, undercut intergenerational solidarity, and increase children’s vulnerability to illness, natural disaster and environmental degradation.
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