Is Childhood in Crisis?

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Is Childhood in crisis? 2,500
The nature of childhood, has changed significantly over time. Reference for definitions The word ‘childhood’ can be defined as being ‘the period during which a person is a child’ and is seen as the period between birth and adolesance. Childhood is built up by a range of different aspects for example: development socially, educationally etc. The idea of childhood being in crisis, can relate to a range of different issues i.e. family breakdown, increase in technology, culture/society changes etc. A crisis can be defined as being a time of intense difficulty. Whether childhood is in crisis or not it is extremely important to support a child’s development through childhood. Childhood is made up of three different stages: Early childhood (play age), Middle childhood (school age) and adolesance (puberty age). During the course of this essay, the phrase will be examined, giving the history of childhood and how it has changed through time. An individual’s childhood can shape ‘who’ they are and how they live their life in the future. The key issues that will be highlighted will be how childhood has changed focusing on the idea of culture, peer groups, technology, and media. Throughout time, the concept of childhood has continually changed and developed. During the 17th-century painting and furniture have shown that children were represented as ‘mini-adults’. They were expected to behave and dress as adults coming across as miniature replicates of their parents. During this era there was no real existence of childhood (Aries 1961) as we understand it. The concept of childhood did not exists in the medieval times; to grow up as a child would have been brutal and an uncaring experience. A lot of families were in poverty and there was a high infant mortality rate, (over a third of babies died) there was also no education available for the majority of children. Children born in this era were seen as a benefit to the family as the child could go out to work or marry into a wealthy family. During the Enlightenment (1650-1750), childhood began to be seen as more of a stage between birth and adult hood, but children were still seen as an ‘investment’. During this era, education started to become more evident boys were sent to upper schools, but girls were often made to stay at home; learning how to be a house wives but some aspects of childhood have been development. During the industrial revolution, there was an increase of child labour. Children were expected to go out and work to bring money home, from a very young age limited opportunities meant that working class children were not expected to attend school and the increase of child labour meant that chances of surviving childhood were lowered because of poor living conditions and accidents. One idea, as to why childhood is linked to the idea of family breakdown and the moving away from the typical nuclear family (two parents two children).In 1969 the Divorce Reform Act, which made it easier for married couples to get divorced. Nowadays this has become norm, but the changes this bought had a range of different effects on childhood. It had taken away the ideal idea of childhood being easy and anxiety free. Divorces and subsequent extended families can have a great impact on a child and affect how they experience childhood for example. Childhood adversities, development issues, affect them socially. These issues are still around today and are unlikely to become easier for children going through a family breakup. If childhood is such an important part of life, an increase of family problems, can have a massive impact on child’s development to adulthood. The increase of divorce has led to the adaptation of family structure, families are now more likely to consist of step parents and step children. This means everyone has to live to learn with the new adjustments, resulting in every child experiencing childhood in different ways. The Children Act 1989...
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