CHILDHOOD Under Siege: Joel Bakan

CHILDHOOD Under Siege: Joel Bakan

CHILDHOOD Under Siege: Joel Bakan

In Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children (Free Press/August 9, 2011/$26.00 hardcover), Joel Bakan reveals the astonishingly callous and widespread exploitation of children by profit-seeking corporations-and also society’s shameful failure to protect them. The creator of the award-winning film and internationally best-selling book The Corporation, Bakan shows how corporations pump billions of dollars into rendering parents and governments powerless to shield children from a relentless commercial assault designed solely to exploit their unique needs and vulnerabilities.

childhood under siege front

Focusing on the United States in particular, Bakan demonstrates how:

  • Marketers target children with increasingly devious methods to manipulate their vulnerable emotions, cultivate compulsive behavior, and addle their psyches with violence, sex, and obsessive consumerism.

  • More and more children take dangerous psychotropic drugs as pharmaceutical companies commandeer medical science and deploy dubious and often illegal marketing tactics to boost sales.

  • Children’s chronic health problems are rising dramatically as corporations dump thousands of new chemicals, in increasing amounts, into the environment, usually with the blessings of industry-influenced governments.

  • Children as young as six are working illegally on farms, getting injured, becoming ill, and dying on the job, while the legal age for farm work remains a shockingly low 12 years old in the U.S.

  • America’s schools are becoming private-sector markets for profit-seeking companies, harnessing education to the needs of industry and promoting increasingly regimented and standardized learning.

  • And more

“As governments retreat from their previous roles of protecting children from harm at the hands of corporations,” Bakan writes, “we, as a society, increasingly neglect children’s needs, expose them to exploitation, and thus betray what we, as individuals, cherish most in our lives.” Childhood Under Siege is a call to action to reverse these trends, and provides the necessary insights, information, and concrete proposals to do so.

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“Joel Bakan’s powerful, well-documented polemic is just what we need to hear right now, if we are to even begin to reverse the toxic consumerist legacy we are bequeathing to future generations.”
Literary Review of Canada

“The information in Bakan’s book is…stunning….The book sounds alarms about issues that go under most parents’ radar.”
USA Today

“Childhood Under Siege” 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 Queen Bees and Wannabees

“Childhood Under Siege” outlines the powerful strategies at play in the corporate war against children.
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

“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

“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, most lucrative, consumers. 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. 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 and Swallow Citizens Whole

“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

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-Founder, The David Suzuki Foundation

In “Childhood Under Siege”, 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

Bakan offers passionate argument and copious research in this compelling call for parents to stand up for their children.
Vanessa Bush, Booklist, starred Review


Ministers urged to investigate rate of prison suicides

Originally posted on

Ministers urged to investigate rate of prison suicides

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan says prisons have become dens of violence and number of deaths is a national disgrace

Matthew Taylor and Sandra Laville

 The Guardian, Saturday 18 October 2014

Chris Grayling
Chris Grayling, the justice secretary. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Ministers have been urged to launch an urgent inquiry into the number of suicides in prison after a Guardian investigation revealed that more than six inmates a month are taking their own life.

The shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, described the situation as a “national disgrace” and said ministers should extend the ongoing Harris inquiry, which is looking into deaths in custody among 18-24-year-olds, to include the entire prison population.

“No one expects prisons to be five-star hotels but the public do expect some basic levels of decency,” said Khan. “Instead, prisons have become dens of violence, where deaths…

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19-year-old dies naked on cell floor of gangrene; lawsuits target deaths in Madison County jail

Root Of Evil

19-year-old dies naked on cell floor of gangrene; lawsuits target deaths in Madison County jail

Series of lawsuits targets inmate deaths at Madison County jail last year, including a 19-year-old shoplifter dead of gangrene, a 30-year-old dead of bowel obstruction and a 61-year-old dead from a broken leg. …

The Interview: New Yorker’s Jennifer Gonnerman on Rikers

The Interview: New Yorker’s Jennifer Gonnerman on Rikers.

The Interview: New Yorker’s Jennifer Gonnerman on Rikers


A Rikers Island juvenile detention facility officer walks down a hallway of the jail, Thursday, July 31, 2014, in New York.

Kalief Browder didn’t want to talk about it — any of it.

Not about the wee hours of Saturday, May 15, 2010, when his hellish ordeal began with police officers arresting him and another teen in the Bronx, accusing them of stealing a man’s backpack.

Not about the three years of being imprisoned on Rikers Island — including some 800 days in a solitary confinement cell measuring about 7 feet by 12 feet — without ever having been convicted of anything.

Not about his several suicide attempts at Rikers or the jailers beating inmates or the inmates beating one another or the blood on the dayroom floor.

Jennifer Gonnerman

Journalist Jennifer Gonnerman wanted Kalief Browder to talk about it — all of it.

For she felt compelled to tell his story.

She did so — superbly — in the Oct. 6 issue of The New Yorker in a 7,000-word piece headlined “Before the Law: A boy was accused of taking a backpack. The courts took the next three years of his life.”

“I realized that this story almost encapsulated everything wrong with the New York City criminal justice system in a tale of one teenager,” Gonnerman told JJIE in a telephone interview.

Building the trust and rapport necessary to do the reporting behind the piece took time: Over seven months, Gonnerman figures she did maybe 10 interviews with Browder, sometimes for two- or three-hour stretches.

Still, she said: “The very, very first time I met him he was pretty stiff, guarded, uncomfortable, and I don’t think it was just because he was meeting a stranger. As I got to know him better over time, it seemed to be how he was most of the time as he moved into the world, having gone through this whole experience, having spent so many months in solitary confinement. It had left a real impact, a lingering Impact. …READ MORE, please

Children in trouble with the law are vulnerable and must be housed in a small, family-like environment

Warehousing children in massive prisons is wrong

Children in trouble with the law are vulnerable and must be housed in a small, family-like environment

Figures suggest prisons are seeing higher rates of death amongst the elderly.

Lock-up: the Government has proposed building the largest children’s prison in Europe Photo: Gareth Copley/PA

SIR – Government plans for the largest children’s prison in Europe are bad for children, bad for justice and bad for the taxpayer. Children in trouble with the law are some of the most vulnerable and challenging in our society. Many have been the victims of abuse and neglect.

Small, family-like, secure homes that focus on rehabilitation and tailored, individual learning are better at helping children turn their lives around. Instead we get a plan to create massive child prisons and no details on how they will be run. Proposals to house young children with older teenagers present serious safeguarding risks.

There are 40 per cent fewer children in prison today than when this policy of large prisons for children was first developed, and since 2002 youth crime has fallen by 63 per cent. The estimated £85 million of public money required for this project would be better spent on investing in what works rather than an expensive and dangerous child jail.

Warehousing children in massive prisons is the surest way to create more problems for the future.

Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons

Originally posted on

Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons

Savaged by dogs, Electrocuted With Cattle Prods, Burned By Toxic Chemicals, Does such barbaric abuse inside U.S. jails explain the horrors that were committed in Iraq?


They are just some of the victims of wholesale torture taking place inside the U.S. prison system that we uncovered during a four-month investigation for Channel 4 . It’s terrible to watch some of the videos and realise that you’re not only seeing torture in action but, in the most extreme cases, you are witnessing young men dying.

First posted March 28, 2005


Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons

Savaged by dogs, Electrocuted With Cattle Prods, Burned By Toxic Chemicals, Does such barbaric abuse inside U.S. jails explain the horrors that were committed in Iraq?

By Deborah Davies

They are just some of the victims of wholesale torture taking place inside the U.S…

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