on Childhood in America
VARDA BURSTYN AND GARY SAMPSON
Increasingly over the past decade, scholars, educators, and parents have become deeply disturbed by the myriad ways in which both American culture and contemporary socioeconomic realities are undermining childhood—whether by undermining children's ability to develop their minds, psyches, and spirits directly, or by compromising the ability of parents and schools to give children what they need for such development to unfold. Yet another urgent dimension to this cultural and socioeconomic picture is the technoenvironmental assault on childhood. Techno refers to the deployment of industrial technologies developed to bring us the [miracles of modern living] that are at the root of the problem of undermining childhood; and environmental is used because the byproducts of these technologies diffuse into the biosphere—the air, the water, the soil—and are then directly assimilated by children or are picked up and [bioaccumulated] in living organisms such as the crops and animals we and our children eat.
We contend that without the basic physiological integrity of the growing child's body—from gestation through adolescence— emotional and mental development are fundamentally compromised and cannot be diagnosed or remedied by purely cultural or pharmacological forms of intervention. Many people, particularly scholars and educators, are aware that environmental toxins can have an impact on children. But very few people know the quantity