Monday, November 22, 2010

Post Apocalyptic Children

Recently a topic on TMP got me thinking about the presence of children in post-apocalyptic settings and I find that there is a lot to consider here. After the destruction of most of the world's population by whatever means and the downfall of society as we know it, there are bound to be some serious issues regarding children and how they fit into this new world.

One of the most obvious considerations is that children will likely be common, despite lack of proper medical facilities and modern medicine. Society as a whole will have an almost religious need to repopulate and as such great efforts will be made at making babies. What post apocalyptic societies lack in quality they will counter with quantity, beating the mortality rate by sheer will and numbers.

Another factor contributing to the presence children in large numbers will be the lack of overwhelming society - laws, morals, taboos, etc.. There will be little in the way of those who want children to have them beyond the means to support them. There will also be little out there to stop the inevitable accidental births, though many of these might be dealt with cruelly.

This brings me to the benefits of large numbers of children in the post apocalyptic world. Children have always been beneficial as labor, soldiers, caregivers, etc. and they would remain so even after the world is blasted to bits. Now, the means by which these roles are fulfilled will undoubtedly vary from the symbiotic to the parasitic, the beneficent to the malevolent. Malleable little minds would be perfect for creating large bodies of workers and fighters, both commodities needed in the blasted aftermath.

There is one final bit that struck me as I was contemplating the all and that is whether or not we might end up with whole societies of just or mostly children. With age being a great weakening force on the people populated the aftermath, adulthood might actually end up being a luxury reserved only for the very resilient or the lucky. Diseases without cures and little to no natural remedies known or possibly even available, might very well ravage aging bodies, leaving only gangs and villages of children of no older than post-teens.

Such child populations would likely have a very quick learning curve out of necessity and create a strange population of little adults that we are not so used to. Children caring for children and children having children in a way that w consider only in the realm of ancient or very "backward" people these days.

It's an odd thing to consider but it could happen, but we see some of this today. In third world countries children already take on a load of responsibilities that seem cruel and unfortunate by most of our standards. We also see armies of child soldiers and in some cases even child leaders. Cartels, warlords, and fanatics everywhere have long used children as pawns and/or effctive tools toward their ends. As harsh as it is, there is no reason these predilections wouldn't continue on into the post-apocalypse.

Anyhow, just some thoughts.

Take care,



  1. Have you seen or read "The Road"? That one deals with children in a post apocalyptic aftermath. I found it hard to get through just because it was so depressing.

  2. IIRC at least one of the Afterblight Chronicles books from Abbadon deals with children in a PA world..

  3. "The road" is depressing! Cellars filled with people as livestock?

    But all together a good movie.


  4. Lord of the Flys meets Terminator! Another book where people are cattle is the Lost Regiment series by Willian Forstchen. I caution you though that it contains some VERY graphic language in explaining why the Tugar horde call the people of the world cattle... It also talks about the different ways that cattle are eaten.

  5. On our own planet,
    Those societies with the largest family sizes,
    Treat their women with the least respect.

    If children are plentiful,
    Then women would be relegated to the production and care of children.
    This would be a tremendous backwards step for gender equality.
    In a society that limits contraception, women’s rights would be minimal;
    Hence female adventures would be rare.

    I write this as a statement of reason,
    Not as a misogynist.
    My great grandmother was Emmeline Pankhurst

  6. I think you would be surprised at the lower than expected birth rates. One thing that happens as a result of famine is that the female reproductive cycle pretty much shuts down.

    Then throw in massive infant mortality. As a species, we are less ahrdy than our ancestors tahnks to modern medicines. Not that I would want to go without them - heck a PA setting is pretty much a death sentence for my diabetic son. But you're going to have a lot of kids not make their first birthday.


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