Letter: Childhood stress in the 1930s

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The Independent Online
Sir: Professor MacBeath's statement that "kids nowadays experience stress that kids didn't before" (2 August) must not go unchallenged.

I recall growing up in the 1930s; we had far greater unavoidable stress to cope with. Our childhood was spent under the shadow of one great conflict and in the expectation of another. We had no free medical treatment and no antibiotics. There was then no compulsory testing for TB in cattle; milk often came from affected cows. Hospital treatment was sometimes harsh and unsympathetic (I speak from personal experience). There was no safety net for the working class.

I took my School Certificate during the London Blitz (lessons were sometimes given in the school air-raid shelter). Had I not passed in Maths and English, I would have been obliged to re-sit the whole syllabus. In my life at least, religion loomed large; for several years I lived in fear of eternal damnation.

I am happy to say that our children did not have these same burdens to bear, nor, I hope, will their children. Today's stress for children is, of course, undeniable, but it is different and, dare I say it, sometimes avoidable.


Wellingborough, Northamptonshire