Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Letter from Elsewhere: The Future Eaters

Letter from Elsewhere with Anne Else

The Future Eaters

It’s the clearly deliberate targeting of a school full of children that makes the Beslan hostage deaths and injuries so appalling. Bombing, shelling and setting off explosives in crowded buses, restaurants, markets, city squares and housing complexes is a surefire way to kill and maim children too.

It’s already happened times without number to Israelis and Palestinians, Chechens and Russians; it happened in Jakarta last week; and it’s currently happening almost every day in Iraq.

Best estimates are that for every US soldier who has died in Iraq, ten Iraqis have died. No one knows how many were children. Some of the bombers have been children themselves.

The perpetrators either deny that children were involved, or claim this is merely collateral damage, an unfortunate side-effect, because the real targets are adults and political structures. But every time, the outrage and grief on the ground are just as intense as in Beslan.

For over a hundred years, New Zealanders have not had to face such future-eating carnage and insanity at home. But it would be wrong to let any hint of smugness creep in.

This is not really such a wonderful place to bring up children. The first report on the current state of human rights in New Zealand, released by the Human Rights Commission this month, shows why.

Among 27 OECD countries, New Zealand has the fifth worst rate of child deaths by maltreatment. Between 1996 and 2002, 2,878 people aged between 0 and 19 were discharged from hospital with a diagnosis of assault.

The latest available figures show an increase in the total rate of youth suicide (15–24 years). There were 20.0 deaths per 100,000 population in 2001, up from 18.1 in 2000. New Zealand has the highest male youth suicide rate (15–24 years), and the second highest female youth suicide rate in the OECD.

Young men are four and a half times more likely than young women to kill themselves. But this is mainly because they use more “effective” suicide methods. Young women are twice as likely as young men to try to kill themselves.

These are shaming statistics. What exactly are we doing, or not doing, as a society to produce so much violence towards children and young people? The fact that almost a third of all children continue to live in poverty, in the midst of an apparent economic boom, must surely have something to do with it.

Growing up now is like winning an Olympic medal – the standard for success is much higher than it used to be. To find their footing in the adult world, kids have to be able to function at a much higher level in pretty much every area of life than their parents or grandparents did. Some do spectacularly well, but the gulf between them and the ones at the bottom gets wider every day.

Kids can be killed or maimed in many different ways, but the quiet ways it mostly happens here don’t make front page news. Maybe it’s time they did.


- Anne Else is a Wellington writer and social commentator. Her occasional column will typically appear on a Monday. You can subscribe to receive Letter From Elsewhere by email when it appears via the Free My Scoop News-By-Email Service

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news