In a similar case in Norway, the child killers, deemed not to be legally accountable for their action, were reintegrated into society, and were accompanied by psychologists for some time. The mother of the young girl who was murdered in Norway expressed a view that differed quite sharply from that of the screaming mob in the UK. She appeared to rationalize that the children did not fully understand the consequences of their actions, even if they did have some realization about what they did and she accepted their reintegration into society Montgomery The treatment of childhood: justice versus welfare The difference in treatment of the child killers in the two cases mentioned above appears to reflect the justice versus welfare models of the treatment of children raised by Asquith, as discussed by Stainton Rogers The justice and welfare models respectively align with the Puritan and the Romantic discourses.
Thus the justice orientation may be more aligned with the patriarchal structure of society, while the care orientation more with feminist concerns. Construction of childhood 21 Arguably, the justice orientation has greater alliance with objectivism and distant ways of relating, those favoured by scientific regulation and control, and an individualistic stance.
This worldview is in keeping with valuing and fostering competitiveness, and consequently, inequity. On the other hand, the care orientation has arguably greater alliance with subjectivism and essentially merged ways of relating, those favoured by social constructionist visions of acceptance of diversity, deregulation and a collectivist stance. This is a worldview in keeping with valuing and fostering co-operation, and consequently, equity.
These contrasting worldviews are related to the differing goals of development evident in individualistic and collectivist societies Burman ; Penn , those associated with fostering an independent versus an interdependent sense of self Alderson ; Owusu-Bempah and Howitt The discussion above would suggest that the treatment of children in the UK is aligned with a justice orientated, masculine worldview based on competition and harbouring and propagating inequality, and that this worldview is shaped frequently by Puritan discourses about childhood.
On 3 October the BBC News showed images of hooded youths wandering around in a group seemingly misbehaving. At the same time it was announced that the prevalence of such images and the negativity associated with them were condemned by the UN in a report released on the same day UN, The report highlights the over-prevalence of such negative images and accords this with the inappropriate negative treatment of young people in the UK.
It emphasizes that such images along with the high prevalence of locking up young people, at a greater rate than any other in Europe, and the prevalence of poverty, along with the use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders ASBOs and mosquito devices, breach the human rights of children and young people. The news item featured a youth, who had been incarcerated for burglary and misdemeanours, being interviewed. When asked about incarceration, he stated that being locked up was of no benefit and in his view did nothing to help or change behaviour.
He added that, as in his case, there were reasons why people did unacceptable things and that these reasons needed to be listened to. In his view it was the latter that was more beneficial to helping and changing behaviour. This young man appeared polite, articulate, reasonable and highly rational. This case study reflects concerns raised by academic writers in relevant contemporary literature already referred to. It emphasizes the need to listen to young people, especially when they appear to transgress, and especially when considering the reasons for apparent transgressions.
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The transgressions noted in the UK may well be the product of, or duplication of, the world that young people experience. This is supported by research that takes a non-objectification stance Grieg and Taylor , one which ascribes to the notion of children being social actors in their own rights Kehily and Swann ; Woodhead This approach alerts us to the duplication of hierarchical power struggles in relation to adult—child relationships as well as to gender relationships. Traditional developmental psychology: toxicity, containment and inequality Previous reports have declared that youth in the UK are both the unhappiest and the worst behaved in Europe.
Jenks uses the 22 S. It could be suggested that these negative facets of the treatment of children and the constructions of childhood within our contemporary society — toxicity, containment and inequality — are in part attributable to traditional developmental psychology and to the prevalence of both the Romantic and the Puritan discourses of childhood. Both Jenks and Burman subscribe to the view that traditional developmental psychology contributes much to these unhappy positions by way of constructing the child as in a process of becoming.
Thus children are generally perceived of as immature, and seen as following a natural development aligned with a Romantic discourse — unless there is some deviation from the expected Romantic trajectory, in which case they are constructed through a Puritan discourse.
Academic Year 12222/2020
These inherent features of Piagetian theory have an aim, or end point, of a civilized rational being. Stainton Rogers also appears to subscribe to the condemnation of developmental psychology. In respect of the needs discourse, she lays responsibility at the feet of outdated policy as well as developmental psychology, but does not reflect on the latter as outdated. Well-being, the quality of life discourse and future projections Some deliberation needs to be undertaken with the aim of moving towards a more positive construction of childhood, one which is more constructive and enabling than the negative and destructive construction discussed.
In order to do so we may need to look to lifespan approaches and contemporary developmental psychology. Sugarman considers treatment approaches and Mufti considers approaches in education that have implications for psychological well-being. Such considerations are especially important during an era of the introduction of academies and the consideration of extending the age of compulsory education.
But childhood prolonged cannot remain a fairyland. It becomes a hell. Read through the articles several times, reviewing and analysing them as you do so. Consider how the children and young people are constructed. What, if any, treatment approaches are implied in the articles? Discuss your analysis with a friend, partner, colleague or fellow student.
Conclusion Future conceptualizations of childhood need to move away from traditional developmental psychology and both the Romantic and Puritan discourses. We must focus on the inclusion and participatory aspects of life and, most importantly, we must seek to construct images of childhood that constitute children as people, not as becoming people, 24 S.
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Pressler through a Rights-based discourse. Debates considering the quality of life discourse need to move towards appreciating research that informs a more positive construction of childhood, including that informed by the reality of the lived experiences voiced by children themselves, as well as the reality constructed by their parents. What was expected of you at different age-related stages of your life, or due to your gender?
What image of your childhood do you hold? Is this a nostalgic image containing a view of a time of freedom to roam and freedom from responsibility? What role did adults play in your life? This view is not shared by all cultures. Resonant images of childhood in contemporary Western societies have been constructed from sets of pictures and images across different media and across time, and are dependent on socio-cultural, historical and political factors. There are three generalized models or images of childhood in Western societies — angelic, demonic and small person — and these are aligned respectively to three discourse sets — the Romantic, the Puritan and the Rights-based.
The James Bulger case in the UK in added to the demonic image of childhood espoused by the Puritan discourse. The treatment of the child killers in this case suggests that in the UK the treatment of children is frequently aligned to a justice orientated, competitive, masculine worldview based on Puritan discourse which propagates inequality.
In a sense, both the Romantic and Puritan discourses construct childhood as a process of becoming people or adults in line with traditional developmental psychology. Both discourses, therefore, in line with traditional developmental psychology, construct negative images of children based on concepts of dependency, moral immaturity and need for containment and protection from toxicity, both societal and self-induced. Recommended reading Kirby, P. Montgomery, R.
- Consumer Reports (June 2015).
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Burr and M. Newman, M. Kassem, E. Mufti and J. Construction of childhood 25 Sanders, B. Maynard and N. References Alderson, P.
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