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Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 9, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Childhood Under Siege outlines the powerful strategies at play in the corporate war against children. Bakan maintains that, while most families do their best, they are outmaneuvered by well-paid experts serving the needs of greedy and heartless corporations. This engaging, carefully researched and important book is a call to action to those who believe we have a responsibility to protect all our children with our laws and public policies as well as our hearts."

—Mary Pipher, author of The Shelter of Each Other and Seeking Peace

"Childhood Under Siege is a compelling call to arms in the covert war for our children's minds, health, and future. Joel Bakan empowers us all to stop lamenting the destruction of childhood and do something to rescue it."

—Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., Educational Psychologist and author of Different Learners: Identifying, Preventing, and Treating Your Child's Learning Problems

“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.”

—Noam Chomsky, author of Hopes and Prospects

“Joel Bakan documents and depicts a modern disaster-in-the-making as ominous as our society's assault on the natural environment: the social and economic destruction of the conditions for healthy childhood. An eloquent and prophetic work we need most urgently to heed.”

—Gabor MatÉ, M.D., author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

“To be a child today, even in affluent countries like ours, is no longer a time of innocence, idyll and discovery, as Bakan reveals in Childhood Under Siege. Most children today grow up on a planet in which billions of tons of toxic chemicals have been poured into the air, water and soil; in a big city where the opportunity to encounter nature has been replaced by concrete, fast cars, video games and shopping malls; in a world in which childhood represents a marketing challenge and opportunity. Read this important book and then start working for change.”

—David Suzuki, co-author of The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

"Joel Bakan's new book is a compelling, informed alarm about the insidious and invisible ways children are being manipulated into thoughtless consumers. Childhood Under Seige is an essential read for anyone who works for or cares about children because we simply can't advocate for and teach them effectively if we don't know what we are up against. As a mother and a teacher, it was sometimes overwhelming to read this book, but for my own work and parenting I forced myself to keep going. At times it was deeply frightening--and I do media literacy training as part of my work. It's very simple: If you want to be relevant in a child's life, you need to read this book." —Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queenbees and Wannabees

“Our new century of unlimited private profits has put an end to the era of publicly protected childhood. Separated by corporate design from their parents, kids have become capitalism's newest and most lucrative (and most vulnerable) consumers. In his Childhood Under Siege, Joel Bakan offers an angry but careful analysis of how the market flourishes today by selling our children everything from dangerous drugs, toxic plastics and unhealthy snack foods to violent and addictive video games and for-profit standardized tests. The villains here are not playground stalkers but supposedly "child-friendly" companies like Nickelodeon, Facebook, Pfizer and Edison Schools, along with a trillion dollar children's marketing machine and a "government is the problem" ideology that hasmade public regulation of the interests of children all but impossible. If they read Bakan carefully, once they get over their rage, both parents and policy makers may be ready to lift the corporate siege that is threatening not just our children but childhood itself."

—Benjamin R. Barber,author of Consumed: How Markets Infantilize Adults, Corrupt Children andSwallow Citizens Whole

"Bakan offers passionate argument and copious research in this compelling call for parents to stand up for their children." —Booklist (starred review)

"[Bakan] calls for government regulation of big business, citing examples sure to make parents take notice...A provocative argument." -- Kirkus

About the Author

Joel Bakan is a professor of law at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. His book The Corporation was published in twenty languages, was an international bestseller, and inspired the critically acclaimed hit documentary of the same name. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439121206
  • ASIN: B006W3ZHAC
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,251,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jill Daniel on August 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Parenting seems to be getting harder these days and there are many reasons for that...dual career couples, not enough family time, economic woes that affect family resources...but there's another big parenting problem for families today...it's all happening in the name of big business...while corporations get fatter and richer, our children are becoming addicted to violent video games, poisoned by toxic chemicals in our environment, and prescribed potentially deadly psychiatric drugs...
Joel Bakan's book is a wakeup call and a call to action for parents who want to protect their children and have them grow up in an environment that isn't threatening them at every turn.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Joel Baken is an attorney and parent advocate. In 'Childhood Under Siege' he provides a catalog of abuses of children by businesses. Children's direct buying power, when combined with their influence over parents' spending, tops $1 trillion/year. This gives lots of incentives to various businesses to mine them for profit. Bakan addresses eight areas that he believes merit special attention.

The first is video games - 'Grand Theft Auto IV' was released in 2008 and sold 6 million units the first week for $500 million. Having bad things happen to virtual pets left without attention (eg. subscribing to a paid upgrade) is now used to addict children to online games. More obviously, such games inure players to violence and sex. Tweens and teens spend about eight hours/day online or watching TV. Both offer plenty of other unhealthy diversions/'education' during that time.

Baken's section on pediatric psychotropic drugs was the most interesting section. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act allowed scientists and institutions ownership over discoveries made with federal funding. Prior to that medical research was done mainly in public institutions by academic physicians and shielded from the corrupting influences of marketing. Now corporate partners have poured money into this area - influencing the increased number of DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) categories of pediatric maladies, and the purported remedies.

The vast majority of published research covers only positive results of clinical trials; of these, approximately half are ghost-written by corporate-sponsored writers. The studies themselves introduce subtle but important biases by careful selection of the 'right' questions - eg. comparing a new drug with a deliberately weak alternative.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Should young children be the target of unfettered and sophisticated marketing by industries selling junk food and other products? Or should society give the kids some protection? Joel Bakan, a Canadian law professor who holds law degrees from Oxford and Harvard, makes a persuasive case for protection, instead of the let-the-parents-beware system we have today.

At one time, Bakan explains, our society recognized the necessity to provide legal protection for children because they are uniquely vulnerable persons with special rights and needs. Consequently, child labor was outlawed. Minimum ages were enacted for sexual consent and other adult activities. The community was in partnership with parents to shelter children instead of leaving it up to parents on their own.

Around 1980, with the elections of Reagan and Thatcher, we began to retreat from the ideal of putting children’s interests above those of the marketplace. Deregulation become the new dogma, and government was seen as intruding on parental and corporate freedom. Conservatives criticized the “nanny state” while corporations came to be seen as legal “persons” whose interests the law should protect.

“As a result, children are left largely unprotected from corporations’ unbridled pursuit of profit.” Business interests craft “information” that “creates and downplays fears in order to help sell products and justify harmful practices,” writes Bakan.

In Bakan’s previous book, The Corporation (2004), he makes the case that government regulation is indispensable because for-profit corporations are legally compelled to always and only act in ways to serve their interests.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is appalling to get a proof and to learn how ruthless and unethical people work to damage the health (physical and psychical) of our children and how we, as parents and citizens, are almost powerless in front of these giants of the economy.

I hope this consciousness spreads around for people to react and force governments to approve strict laws and controls and severe punishment.
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Format: Hardcover
I have already purchased a copy of this well-written book for my son and daughter-in-law. I want them to be aware of the unscrupulous corporate practices Bakan describes so that they can protect my grandchildren from the irresponsible tactics of big business in marketing products for children. Especially eye-opening was Bakan's discussion of violent video games such as "Whack your Soul Mate" and "Boneless Girl." I lament the Supreme Court Decision that overturned a California law that would prevent sales of these kinds of games. Bakan's idea of co-regulation--a cooperative effort between government, business, and parents--is an important and well thought out solution to the situation in which today's parents find themselves. Protecting children from toxic influences--whether pharmaceutical companies, commercial television programs, and video game companies--is too big a job for parents alone. I think that every parent(and grandparent) should read this book.
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