unedifying story of the six year old boy with the 23 book publishing deal. If you want to find out more try the coverage in How Publishing Really Works or The Chocolate Keyboard there on the left. There are links within to the newspaper articles or, should I say, gossip sheet articles.
Newspapers who print that sort of rubbish are really just gossiping - and doing harm.
The average six year old is still learning the basics of reading and writing. His or her skills are not normally worthy of even a one book deal, let alone a 23 book deal. No author gets a 23 book deal. I think this is child abuse.
I know that children do get used by their parents. It happens all the time. Freud did it. Anna Freud once said that living with her father, Sigmund, was incredibly difficult. Everything his children did was 'analysed'. The child psychologist Piaget did it too. His working partner, Barbel Inhelder, also said that Piaget's children found themselves closely watched and analysed. Some politicians use their children on the campaign trail others try to keep them, often unsuccessfully, away from the media.
If you are the child of a politician, a sports star, an actor, rock musician or other public figure then you are watched. You will find yourself the subject of media scrutiny. You cannot collect a speeding fine without it being reported. It is claimed that the reporting of these things is 'in the public interest' or of public interest. Nonsense.
We are encouraged to be curious about the lives of public figures, what their bathroom looks like, what colour the sheets are, the clothes they wear, the food they like to eat and the fads they go through. There would perhaps be nothing wrong with this if they always behaved responsibly but they do not. It is irresponsible behaviour which tends to get reported. Responsible behaviour is rarely regarded as interesting.
My siblings and I went through this in a small way. We were referred to as someone's grandchildren and someone's children. We were expected to behave responsibly, sensibly, politely and intelligently all the time. Our grandfather and father were seen as being these sort of people. My father is still seen this way. We never fell seriously out of line but even minor indiscretions were inclined to reach the ears of our parents when they would have been completely ignored in other children.
But, for all that, my parents did not deliberately use us to further their own careers and neither did my grandfather. To do that is child abuse.