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.

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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


[GUEST POST] Into the Deep and Back: Never Losing Hope in Our Youth, Pt. 1/2

[GUEST POST] Into the Deep and Back: Never Losing Hope in Our Youth, Pt. 1

Today Juvenile In Justice is lucky enough to feature Hernan Carvente, who is sharing his remarkable story of resilience with us. We will hear from Hernan again next Monday  for Part 2 of his story.


The stories of youth who have come into contact with the juvenile and criminal justice systems speak to the lack of proper assistance offered by the various systems coming into contact with youth in the United States. It is important to recognize that entering the justice system is a process, which starts not at the point of arrest but at the moment when a system fails to properly address the particular needs of a young person in the community. If systems (i.e. the education, employment, mental health, and justice systems) were to work together to assist youth at a very early age, then perhaps fewer young people would come into contact with the criminal justice system and more would be successful law abiding citizens. I speak from personal experience.


By the time I had turned 8, I began to drink my father’s beers at family parties to prevent my father from getting drunk and beating on my mother. Although young, I understood that when my dad was not under the influence he was a good person. Yet I also knew that my mother never called the police on my dad because she could not speak English and she feared both of them would get deported to Mexico if she did so. As a result, I grew up around violence and developed the same fear of law enforcement that my parents had. I had heard of and seen plenty of stories of immigrant families that had been torn apart by police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. How could I trust or speak to anyone about the problems in my family with the fear that I may lose them in the process?

Some may say that I could have taken a different path in life than resorting to violence, drugs, and gangs, but try telling that to someone who grew up fearing and distrusting the very systems that were supposed to help him…

My parents never managed to complete high school and my father did not even make it past the 6th grade. However, not once while in school did someone ask me why I lacked interest in my education. If someone had ever asked, I would have responded, “Why take an interest in school when my parents cannot even speak English and never even made it past high school?” Did the school ever try to help my parents navigate through those challenges? No, they did not. Instead they labeled them “bad parents” and labeled me “a troubled youth.”

Some may say that I could have taken a different path in life than resorting to violence, drugs, and gangs, but try telling that to someone who grew up fearing and distrusting the very systems that were supposed to help him and his family. By the time I was 13 years old, I had already joined a gang and performed several illegal activities such as selling drugs, forging ID’s, and robbing people. Given that I had a poor relationship with my family, the gang life became an attractive alternative to me because it offered two things I lacked: a family and people I could trust. Several times the police picked me up but, given that I was a small 13-year-old boy, they never really took me seriously. However, several times I did get thrown into a fence or two for bad-mouthing a police officer. One thing I always wonder is, why didn’t the police ever take the time to talk to me or get to know me, rather than treating me like a delinquent because of the way I dressed and talked?


You may ask where my parents were while I was out of school, dealing drugs, and with a gang. The answer is simple: they were hard at work trying to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. Unfortunately, as immigrants from Mexico with little education, job options were more or less limited to minimum wage jobs in restaurants, sweat shops, and other hard labor jobs. Now some may say that my problems started because of lack of parental attention, but regardless of how poor my relationship with my parents was, I can now see that they tried their best. The difficulties they faced came not only from the alcohol and lack of money but also because they lacked hope. How could they ever have hope when it seemed like the education system, the law, and the all other systems were against them?

With little education, a lack of hope, and complete distrust of all state systems, I made many immature, impulsive, and irrational decisions. Two days shy of my 16th birthday, I made the most irrational decision of my life by shooting a rival gang member three times with the intent of taking away his life. A month after having committed the act, I was arrested at school and charged with second-degree attempted murder. During my time in the precinct I was beaten, chocked up, and denied the right to speak with my parents until I either confessed the names of my accomplices or took full responsibility for the crime. In the end, I chose to go for the latter and ended up writing a statement against myself. When my mother arrived at the precinct she unknowingly signed my statement along with a Miranda Rights Waiver. The officers told her that she had to sign both of these documents in order to be able to see me. Can anyone say that the system carried out its functions well in this case? My mother did not even understand the words that she was reading.


….Check back with us next Monday for Part 2 of Into the Deep and Back: Never Losing Hope in Our Youth.

[GUEST POST] Into the Deep and Back: Never Losing Hope in Our Youth, Pt. 2

Once again we are hearing from Hernan Carvente, who is sharing Part 2 of his remarkable story of resilience with us.
If you missed Part 1, get caught up here.



…Within a day of having been arrested I was being processed through the adult criminal court with the possibility of being sentenced to 10 years in prison. For four months I was held in a juvenile detention facility while I fought my case in court. I eventually ended up being sentenced to 2 to 6 years at a secure juvenile detention facility 2 hours away from my family and soon-to-be-born daughter. During my time in placement I saw a lot of violence—both from my peers and the staff in the facility. At first, it was hard to avoid not being mixed up in all the problems in the facility when the mentality of the system was residents versus staff. Although I viewed many of the staff as being authoritarian and punitive, I was fortunate to meet a few good staff that looked at me not as a criminal but as young man who was in need of guidance and support. These staff looked past my crime and tried to understand what had led me to become the person that I was.

Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, Downey, CA  December 3, 2013

The encouragement that I received from these staff allowed me to begin trusting people for the first time and I finally began to see myself as being capable of doing something more. This change in mindset drove me to obtain my GED and soon after I enrolled in a college program led by the man to whom I now attribute most of my success to. The director of that program became a teacher, a friend, a father figure, and a mentor to me all at the same time. He taught the true value of a good education and made me realize how much I could do by just believing in myself. He also helped me overcome the anger that I had bottled up from my past, which helped me get closer to my family. However, the biggest lesson that he taught me was that it only takes one person to make a difference in the world or the lives of others. This man, along with a few good staff, and other outside individuals went against the system status quo to assist me. These people listened to me, believed in me, worked with my parents and, by doing so, addressed the very problems that all other systems had failed to address. Thanks to all of their support I managed to walk out of the facility in June 2012 with 54 college credits and a new outlook on life.

The transition back into the community for me, like many others who exit the system, was not an easy one. I had no money, my relationship with my family and the mother of my child was unstable, and a B-class felony conviction on my record made it almost impossible to find a job. When it came to college, a few universities made the enrollment process very difficult for me. I felt like I was walking around with a sign on my chest that read: “Beware Ex-Felon.” Although there were several times in the first six months when I felt like giving up, I continued to persevere and slowly managed to find opportunities thanks to people who were willing to take a chance with me. What I realized in the transition process was that most systems, if not all, did not respond very well to someone who possessed a criminal record. Having felt this similar lack of support on behalf of the various systems from a young age, I wanted to be in position where I would be able to make changes in these systems. I decided to enroll at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and began to advocate on behalf of youth in New York and on national scale.

These people listened to me, believed in me, worked with my parents and, by doing so, addressed the very problems that all other systems had failed to address.

Through my advocacy work, I learned that my past experiences afford me the ability to speak on the various problems (lack of school and family support, legal processes, etc.) that make it difficult for some youth to be successful law abiding citizens. In the past year and half, I have spoken several times before officials, communities, and youth with the purpose of pointing out deficiencies in the various systems as well as to encourage people to treat youth as youth, and not as adults. I continue to use my story as a driving force to impact change within the system and to alter the perceptions that people have of youth who end up in the criminal justice system.


Today, I am a Research Assistant/Program Analyst at the Vera Institute of Justice, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit center for justice policy and practice whose aim is to assist government and civil society to improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety. I was also appointed by the governor to serve as member of the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG) as well as the Citizens Policy and Complaint Review Council (CPCRC). I am also the Northeast Regional Representative for the Coalition for Juvenile Justice’s (CJJ) National Youth Committee and the Founder and President of the Youth Justice Club at John Jay College. Although all of these are important accomplishments in my life, I never forget that the reason I am part of all of this work is to help policymakers develop better responses for youth in our communities. And luckily, although its only been two years since I was released, I have already made progress in changing the way that systems perceive youth who commit serious crimes by sharing the story that you have just read.

What I hope people take away from my story is that you should never lose hope on a young person just because of his past, the way he dresses or talks, or because he commits a very serious crime. With better responses, the right support, and more resources, all youth regardless of the crimes they commit, the way they behave, or the labels they carry (“delinquent,” “criminal,” “at-risk,” “troubled”), have the capacity to change. I also want policymakers, politicians, and other system stakeholders to understand that all systems must work together to address the problems youth face in our communities. If a small group of people were able to make a difference in my life, can you imagine what we could accomplish if entire systems worked together to help youth? It would mean the end of Mass Incarceration.











_MG_9784Hernan ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hernan is a senior at the CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice where he is pursuing his Bachelors in Criminal Justice. He is a Research Assistant at the Vera Institute of Justice and is a member of the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. Hernan spent four years in New York’s juvenile justice system.


What It Means to Be Human: A Philosopher’s Argument Against Solitary Confinement

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What It Means to Be Human: A Philosopher’s Argument Against Solitary Confinement

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.  –Fyodor Dostoyevsky

guentherIn recent years, resistance to the widespread use of solitary confinement has gained significant traction in the United States. Opponents of the practice have drawn upon everything from psychology and neuroscience to criminology and economics to show the many harms caused by solitary.

Lisa Guenther, associate professor at Vanderbilt University and author of the new book Solitary Confinement: Social Death and Its Afterlives, draws upon her knowledge of philosophy to make a thought-provoking argument against the practice of isolating human beings for extended periods of time.

Guenther refers to the tenets of phenomenology, which deals primarily with the development of the consciousness through first-person experiences—the formative relationships we share with one another and the…

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Solitary Watch: “Solitary 101” PowerPoint Presentation

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New from Solitary Watch: “Solitary 101” PowerPoint Presentation

Our “Solitary 101″ PowerPoint, developed for the recent Midwest Coalition for Human Rights conference on Solitary Confinement and Human Rights, is now available online. The 60-slide PowerPoint includes sections on the history of solitary confinement, solitary as it is praed in the United States today, and the growing movement against solitary confinement.

We encourage educators and advocates to use, share, and customize the presentation according to their needs (for non-commercial purposes only, with proper attribution to Solitary Watch). No advance permission is necessary, although we will appreciate hearing about how you are using the presentation, as well as any suggestions for improvement.

Solitary Watch’s ‘Solitary 101′ Powerpoint Presentation

Solitary Watch’s ‘Solitary 101′ Powerpoint — Printable Version

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Got an e-mail: Mark Woodworth and Ryan Ferguson, innocent men both freed this year with the help of petitions.

Originally posted on

Liz Ramsey via <> schrieb am 1:28 Sonntag, 20.Juli 2014: Responsive Template Baseline

Mark Woodworth and Ryan Ferguson, innocent men both freed this year with the help of petitions.

Annamaria –

Mark Woodworth spent 17 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. This last Tuesday, he got the call he had been waiting for since his conviction was overturned for the second time in January of 2013 — prosecutors we’re dropping all charges against him.

Mark was only 16 years-old in 1990 when his neighbor was shot and killed in her home, and three years later he was indicted for her killing. Soon it was revealed that prosecutors withheld evidence that pointed to his innocence. His conviction was overturned twice but when the Missouri Attorney General planned to try him a third time, I started a petition calling for the charges to be dismissed.


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Children are so vulnerable – all over the world

Mortars fired from Gaza during ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

Three mortars fires into Israel during five-hour ‘humanitarian pause’ in hostilities brokered by UN

Relatives of four Palestinian children killed on a beach by Israeli bombardment mourn during the funeral in Gaza city.
Relatives of four Palestinian children killed on a beach by Israeli bombardment mourn during the funeral in Gaza city. Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

At least three mortars were fired from Gaza into Israel on Thursday, less than three hours into a five-hour “humanitarian pause” in the nine-day battle between Israel and Hamas.

Juvenile Justice Reforms Prominent in New Bill by U.S. Senators Booker and Paul

Juvenile Justice Reforms Prominent in New Bill by U.S. Senators Booker and Paul.

Juvenile Justice Reforms Prominent in New Bill by U.S. Senators Booker and Paul


Cory Booker

Two first-term senators from opposite sides of the aisle introduced legislation Tuesday banning the use of juvenile solitary confinement in federal facilities, along with several other reforms that would impact juveniles offenders, The Washington Post reports.

New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, who sponsored The Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment (or REDEEM) Act, say it will cut government spending, reduce recidivism among adults and juveniles and increase public safety.

“The REDEEM Act will ensure that our tax dollars are being used in smarter, more productive ways,” Booker said in a news release. “It will also establish much-needed sensible reforms that keep kids out of the adult correctional system, protect their privacy so a youthful mistake can remain a youthful mistake, and help make it less likely that low-level adult offenders reoffend.”

The proposal encourages states to raise the age in which juveniles can be tried as adults to 18. States implementing this reform would be given preference when applying for federal community policing grants.

Booker and Paul also proposed that the records of juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes be sealed or expunged depending on the youth’s age when the crime was committed.

“The biggest impediment to civil rights and employment in our country is a criminal record,” Paul said. “Our current system is broken and has trapped tens of thousands of young men and women in a cycle of poverty and incarceration.”

The United States is home to 5 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s prison population, a statistic the pair of senators cite as evidence that sweeping reforms are necessary to fix a broken criminal justice system.

According to Politico, the bill, which also includes a number of reforms to the criminal justice system, is unlikely to advance this year.

Financial supporters of The JJIE may be quoted or mentioned in our stories. They may also be the subjects of our stories.