22nd September, 2006
The exuberance of childhood celebrated in books such as Just William is now frowned upon as inappropriate behaviour, resulting in more and more children being prescribed behavioural drugs. Rachel Ragg investigates
William, 10, has just added smashing his neighbour’s greenhouse to his list of crimes. Other recent misdemeanours include breaking into an artist’s studio, turning his sister’s best hat into a plant-pot, almost blinding his aunties with a catapult, flooding the hall (during a water-fight with his cousin), defacing school text-books, and locking an especially deadly relative in a shed.
This particular William is, of course, Richmal Crompton’s fictional Just William – back in the days when such behaviour was put down to ‘boyish high spirits’, and merited a hefty slipper on the backside from Father.
But what would happen to ‘Just William: the 2006 re-make’? That’s obvious: he would be diagnosed as suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and given Ritalin until he sat still and reflected on his Personal, Social and Emotional Development, as dictated by the National Curriculum. Never mind plant-pot hats and wild adventures: his fantastic Standard Assessment Test (SAT) scores in Maths, English and Science would be helping his primary school to creep up yet another percentage point in this year’s league table, and his...
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