TORONTO, May 19, 2005
—Children are the only people other than prisoners whose rights are denied by legislation, says Michael Enright, host of CBC’s Sunday Edition.

Society is able to limit youth freedoms so drastically because the media paints a contradictory and simplistic picture of youth. “They are either angels or villains: we are very poor at nuance,” according to Enright. “For instance, if one believed the media we’d think we were in the grip of a youth crime wave. But we aren’t!”

This media distortion does “terrible damage to our children in an unthinking way.”

Enright will develop this argument further when he delivers the 2005 Lowery Lecture, a prestigious annual lecture hosted by Defence of Children International.

This year’s lecture—the sixth—will take place at 7pm on Tuesday, May 31 in the George Ignatieff Theatre, University of Toronto campus. It will be preceded by a short performance by the choir of the Nelson Mandela Park Public School.

Enright’s lecture, “Distortions in a Mirror: Children and the Media,” draws on his 40-plus years of working in the media, in Canada and internationally.

“I am fascinated,” says Enright, “by Canadian attitudes to children. It seems that we love our children but we dislike children as a category. Why else would we repeatedly elect a government that dismantles one of the most progressive school systems on the continent? Why do we continue to undermine the education of our children by claiming that teachers are coddled?”

Simplistic media reporting on children and youth “generates a profoundly unfriendly attitude towards children,” believes Enright.

Enright has a long history of child and youth advocacy work. But why does he do it?

“Well, I have four kids of my own! I am constantly amazed by the insights of children. On a daily basis my nine-year-old makes me wonder anew about the world! And it saddens me when I see a media that cannot capture this nuance and joy and instead deals in stereotypes.”


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