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Ask anyone to name the chief dangers facing children today, and they're likely to tick off a predictable list-homelessness and malnutrition, poor education and inadequate healthcare.

They're not wrong. But the longer I work with children, the more concerned I am about another quiet wave that carries just as a great a menace: the mindset of avoidance.

Call it what you want-convenience, denial, or stubbornness-but if there's anything that characterizes education across the board, it's the persistent habit of turning our backs on the hardest questions, and falling for the answers that soothe us back to sleep.

Though the tendency to settle for the most painless solution to a problem is a normal human trait, it is rarely a healthy approach to child rearing.

From parenting journals to popular books, the wisdom is the same: children may be cute, but raising them is a thankless chore. Childhood itself has come to be viewed as a suspect phase.

Children of all ages and means are being squelched on the playground and in class, not because they're unmanageable or unruly, but simply because they're behaving like children should.

Diagnosed with "problems" that used to be recognized as normal childhood traits-impulsiveness and exuberance, spontaneity and daring-millions of children are being diagnosed as hyperactive and drugged into submission.

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