'There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.' Nelson Mandela
Joel Bakan, author of the international bestseller, The Corporation, takes Nelson Mandela's words as the moral starting point of his new book. In Childhood Under Siege he throws a brilliant light on the ruthless manipulation of children by big business - and on society's failure to protect them.
Children, he argues, are now perceived as a resource to be mined for profit. He takes us on a dystopian journey through a world of cynical exploitation, callous neglect, ill-informed parents and governments that look the other way. He tells the chilling - and sometimes darkly humorous - story of how children are being transformed into obsessive and narcissistic mini-consumers, media addicts, cheap and pliable workers, and pharmaceutical industry guinea pigs.
We are witnessing a winner-takes-all battle for children's hearts, minds and bodies - a hostile takeover of childhood itself. Large corporations are spending vast sums in order to render parents and governments powerless to protect children from calculated and unrelenting commercial assault.
Joel Bakan makes it disconcertingly clear that society is betraying what it purports to cherish most. As the world reels from economic turmoil, ecological devastation, terrorism and war, it is these societal failings that may turn out to be the most destructive of all.
Joel Bakan is professor of law at the University of British Columbia. A Rhodes Scholar and former law clerk to Chief Justice Brian Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada, he holds law degrees from Oxford, Harvard and Dalhousie Universities. An internationally renowned legal authority, Bakan has written widely on law and its social and economic impact. He is the author of the bestselling and critically-acclaimed The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power.
"The assault on childhood in our corporate-dominated and profit-driven society, painfully dissected in this penetrating study, is a tragedy not only for the immediate victims but for hopes for a better future.
It can be resisted, as Joel Bakan discusses.
And it is urgent not to delay"
"Incredibly well researched and notated... Bakan is most powerful when writing about the sinister relationship between multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession.... It is that sneakiness of corporations that is the most shocking element to Childhood Under Siege - we are allowing our kids to be abused right under our noses, and we don't even know it"
Independent on Sunday
"A truly terrifying book, one that's meticulously researched, clearly written and forcefully argued"