CHILDHOOD UNDER SIEGE by Joel Bakan

CHILDHOOD UNDER SIEGE

How Big Business Targets Children

KIRKUS REVIEW

Bakan (Law/Univ. of British Columbia; The Corporation, 2005) argues that corporations “resemble human psychopaths in their essential natures,” and he calls for government regulation of big business, citing examples sure to make parents take notice.

Children are bombarded with images of sex and violence, and the advent of new media makes it increasingly difficult for parents to control what children view. According to Bakan, two popular Internet games that contain murder and misogyny—“Whack Your Soulmate” and “Boneless Girl”—attract children with addictive qualities and are brought to us by a flagship site for Nickelodeon. The author even goes as far as blaming the fast-food industry for childhood obesity; though parents make the ultimate dietary decisions, he writes, they are heavily influenced by the “nagging” of children. Bakan discusses several crimes of the Western corporate world, including the proliferation of harmful chemicals (phthalates and lead) in Dora the Explorer activity totes and Wal-Mart’s child-labor--law violations. Most shocking is the author’s example of hundreds of thousands of U.S. migrant children working in fields for hours with few breaks, exploited by big farms. The author notes that governments “are alone in being able, through the enactment of laws and regulations, to change, for the better, the conditions in which parents make choices for their children.” Bakan provides many disturbing statistics and examples, but little in the way of solutions. 

A provocative argument heavy on emotion but light on economic ramifications.

 

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2011
ISBN: 9781439121207
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2011




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