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Press release

Announcing the launch of Birmingham Salon Tuesday 9 February 2010 6.45 for 7pm until 9pm Atrium bar, The Studio, Cannon St, Birmingham B2 5EP.

For more information, email

The city that ushered in the Age of Enlightenment and hosted the famous Lunar Society has been without a public forum for no-holds-barred debate for too long.

Our city needs more channels for intellectual debate and learning in informal settings. Birmingham Salon ( promises to nurture a stimulating and thoughtful environment for freethinkers across the city.

Sponsored by the University of Birmingham, we offer a much needed space to exchange ideas and opinions and to learn about a whole range of subjects. We plan meetings on childhood, the forthcoming general election and racism, and aim is to create a dynamic open group where people feel free to propose subjects themselves and get the opportunity to lead those debates. Birmingham Salon is a fully participative group, not a series of pre-programmed lectures where people sit passively and listen.

Our first meeting, 'Is Childhood in Crisis', is on 9 February.

Birmingham-based academic Dr Helene Guldberg ( Co-founder and Director of Spiked (, she teaches developmental psychology at the Open University, CAPA and IES, and is the author of Reclaiming childhood: Freedom and Play in an Age of Fear. Routledge (2009)

in debate with

Professor Ian Grosvenor, childhood historian from the University of Birmingham (

Is Childhood in Crisis?

We are told that children are under threat from a whole host of dangers from strangers and paedophiles, from obesity, from being made apathetic or violent by video games, and from being constantly tested at school. Meanwhile out of school activities are disappearing because adult volunteers would rather resign than undergo demeaning criminal records checks just to prove they're not paedophiles. In this climate of mistrust, childcare workers and teachers think twice before comforting a child with a hug, or putting a plaster on a grazed knee. Parental concern about safety means children rarely play unsupervised outdoors.

Are over-protective paranoid adults unintentionally restricting children’s social and psychological development, and creating a nation of cotton-wool kids? Is risk aversion damaging children? Or is childhood truly much more risky than in the past and new concerns simply realistic?

Birmingham Salon is open to all.


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