The infantilization of childhood

On the radio the other day, a CBC host gamely ad-libbed in an interview about the catastrophe in Japan, asking the interviewee’s children, in Japan, were coping:

“What about the seven-year-old? At seven, children are aware of some things.”

“Some things?” A seven-year-old is hardly just learning to focus his or her eyes. At seven, kids might not understand the “why” — if there is one to understand — but if their house falls down or their town is inundated with water or they have to, as shown in one popular photo, go back to their destroyed house and load up a carrier bag with all their wordly goods, yeah, they’ll definitely notice.

An article in the Globe and Mail a few days later featured a psychologist of some sort recommending that parents consider, because of the special horror of the Japan situation, shielding their children up to 12 from seeing anything about it on TV. Can a 12-year-old grade 7 student really get by school without an awareness of current events?