Sunday, 14 March 2010


I spent yesterday doing some background research for my novel. It won't all necessarily make it into the narrative but it will add depth and an element of versimillitude. I was checking out the age of consent in France, the weather, potential journeys, age you are allowed to drink alcohol and most importantly child trafficking. It was this aspect of research that took me to some areas I wasn't sure I wanted to go. Of course I know about child trafficking but I now realise I didn't actually KNOW about it. I hadn't thought about what they go through: the humiliation, the desperation, the loss of identity. Their eyes know too much and have seen too much - they are pools of despair in the midst of baby faces both male and female. Some girls are as young as 5, that is no age to have everything taken away from you.

As a writer for young adults I now have the opportunity to reflect and, maybe, more importantly highlight the experience of a child being trafficked so the future generations can try harder to stop it, rather than just making noises about how bad it is. Melvin Burgess states that a child can cope with anything if it is put in context. However, it is worth noting that unfortunately he didn't adhere to this in Nicholas Dane when he allows the authorial voice to step in at the point of male rape saying that it was not necessary to give the details of this. In my mind all this does is silence it further, humiliating any unfortunate sufferer of male rape by implying that it can never be spoken about. It also begs the question would Burgess have stepped in if it had been a girl who was being raped?

Writers for children do have a responsibility to deal with these issues sensitively and appropriately. We provide an opportunity for children or teenagers, in particularly, to experience life vicariously - to gain an understanding of risk taking endeavours without stepping outside the safety of their room. But with this we must also be aware that as writers we shouldn't make them feel worse about life just enhance their understanding. This is the challenge of writing for children and should be embraced and not avoided.
I found this clip whilst searching, I think it says everything:

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