The Child as Innocent
Discuss about the Constructions and Reconstructions Of Childhood.
A scene from a popular movie “Baby’s Day Out” (1994) where the child is seen happy within the care of an adult ("Baby's day out (1994) - ending!! HD", 2018)
Children are considered distinct from adults who are responsible for taking care of them. This is the construct where the child is depicted as innocent. The innocent child is pure and oblivious of the outside world. The child is also vulnerable and not capable to do things on his or her own. The innocent child constantly requires adult care and supervision.
“Childhood is commodified, a situation not everybody seems happy with. Due to increasing exposure with violence and sexual activities, for example in children's games, children seem to lose the chance to be real children” (Vanobbergen, 2004).
Bruno Vanobbergen has stated the above lines where he described the lost innocence of childhood in the growing capitalist society. The author refers to the rising exploitation on children as commodities through introduction of video games and advertisements that are directed towards children. According to Sorin and Galloway (2006), the later years of 20th century and the initial years of the 21st century witnessed children being used as commodity. Adults “consume” the commodified child for pleasure and satisfaction, state the authors.
Children engaged in constructive work with adults (Files.acecqa.gov.au, 2018)
According to the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) introduced in Australia for early education, children have the ability to contribute equally to the world. they are no different than adults in identifying and realizing the surroundings and its requirements. These children come under the Agentic Child category, which Sorin and Galloway (2006) describe as proficient negotiators who interact with others to replicate features of their culture. the agentic child grows and learns along with the adult.
A toddler being rescued by people in Syria (Express.co.uk, 2018)
The Syrian Conflict that started over seven years ago continues to claim lives of innocent citizens for including thousands of children. As Sorin and Galloway (2006), children falling under this category are the victims of the political and social forces. The child victim wither survives through conflict and terror or succumbs.
The Miniature Adult
“Children in slavery
Without either faults or future
Stolen from their families
Exploited by many
Cheated and raped
For them a wish
For us a hope
In man’s goodness” (Children's poems on child labour, 2018)
The Child Victim
The above lines are quoted from a poem written by a child on child labor. The poem depicts the hardship of children who have to bear the evils of adults as they are being forced to work, dragged to death and abused. The child here is the miniature adult, which Sorin and Galloway (2006) describe as being same as adults. The child is not seen as a different entity than adults and is forced to perform responsibilities same as the adults.
The perception of childhood constantly changes and develops simultaneously with the growth of the human race. To cite an example, the ancient society during the early centuries considered children to be descendants of evil or the Satan. Gradually, this perspective changed and the later centuries saw children being considered mature and able to perform various responsibilities (Hendrick, 2015). These perceptions of childhood although popular, lacked clear explanation. Therefore, it was necessary to delve into the issue and find explanations to define these perceptions. The various constructs of childhood developed by Sorin and Galloway (2006) provided a ground by which childhood could be clearly perceived.
The first construct of childhood chosen for the assignment is the child as innocent. In this construct, the perception of the child is that of an innocent being who is oblivious of the world and its evils. The image chosen for the construct is from the popular 1990s move Baby’s Day out in which the toddler is shown an innocent baby who manages to fool his kidnappers. The entire movie filmed the kid enjoying his day put and dodging his kidnappers but at the end, he had to be protected by the adults. The child is susceptible, weak and in constant need of adult care and protection. This image of childhood finds place in the official documents of international organizations like the United Nations. In the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, states are supposed to allow parents exercise control of their children in order to protect them (Un.org., 2018). Here, it is clear that the child is perceived as incapable of looking after him or herself and the adults are responsible for his or her protection. The role of the adult is that of a protector who is bound to safeguard the interests of the child by having a constant watch over them. The innocent image of the child can also be viewed through practical examples where children are frequently targeted by anti-social elements. The recent case of the online Blue Whale Challenge provides clear example of the child as innocent and the adult as his or protector (Forbes.com, 2018).
The Miniature Adult
The other construct of childhood that is the child victim is somewhat similar to the construct of child as innocent. The image of child victim used in this assignment shows the child being rescued by adults. In both the constructs, the child is vulnerable and prone to danger. Read et al. (2018) while describing the victimized child state that increasing cases of child abuse occur in the modern world due to the neglect of the adults. In this study, the authors also point towards the need for adult protection to save the child from abuses and attacks. It thus becomes further clear that both the constructs demonstrate the protector role of the adult. Nonetheless, dissimilarity is clearly visible in the two constructs wherein the role of the adult in one construct is protecting the child while in other construct; the adult is entirely absent or not capable enough.
The miniature adult construct that has been shown with the use of lines from a poem written by a child. It is clearly visible from the lines in the poem that the child is made to act as an adult. The child is compelled to work as laborer in factories and mines, as evident from the Industrial Revolution era; the child is used to satiate the pleasures of adults as evident from the sex trafficking in countries like Thailand. The miniature adult is in some ways similar to the child victim construct wherein both the cases, the child falls prey to adults. However, it must be noted that the miniature adult child does not always have to be forced to act as an adult. As Gómez?Paredes et al. (2016) point out; children often consent on working in factories due to their strong conscience to help their family.
The miniature adult child has close link to the agentic child construct as well. The agentic construct describes that the child is able enough to understand his or her immediate surroundings. According to the EYLF, children have the ability to identify their surroundings through constant interaction with adults and peers. The image in the assignment used to show the agentic child clearly shows the child ahs possessing the ability to create things on his own. Similar to the miniature adult, the agentic child has traits that allow him to perform adult responsibilities. The agentic child has the power to participate actively in the world and act as co-learners along with adults.
The Agentic Child
The key contrast between agentic child construct and miniature adult construct is the positive image of the agentic child as compared to the negative image of the miniature adult child especially in terms of the role of adults. The adults play the role of a co-constructor of being where they learn together with the child and collaborate in constructing childhood. In the miniature adult construct on the other hand, adults are the major cause for putting children into dire situations. The adults of the agentic child construct give freedom to children to grow on their own in a natural way without demarcating them as imitations of adults. While in contrast to this, the adults in miniature adult construct contribute to the creation of a world where children are deprived of their rights and freedom.
The last construct of childhood that has been included in the assignment is the commodified child. The observation by Vanobbergen (2004) that has been used as a description image to show the construct reveals the modern situation where children are constantly commodified that is used to sell commodities. Here the adult takes on a self-interested role where he only cares about his own profit even if it is at the cost of a child’s wellbeing. The commodified child has certain similarities with the child victim in terms of the sexualized view of the child. In both the constructs, the adults victimize the child where the child as victim construct involves all aspects like war, terror and so on; the commodified child construct involves indirect exploitation of the child. It is in contrast to the innocent child construct, this construct implicitly sells the innocence of the child that is commodifies the child’s innocence.
The overall picture as depicted in the assignment leads to the conclusion that the various constructions of childhood as proposed by the authors have largely eased the field of study. The constructions have helped in demarcating the role of adults in constructing childhood. As seen from the five constructs used in the assignment, adults’ role is vital whether it is hampering childhood or elevating it. the essay provided the five constructs of childhood through images and texts that constituted Part A and did a comparative analysis of the five constructs in Part B. in doing so, the essay included the views of some scholars that helped explain the topic in a clearer way.
Baby's day out (1994)- ending !! HD. (2018). YouTube. Retrieved 27 April 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjllfxl9abk
Children's poems on child labour. (2018). Ilo.org. Retrieved 27 April 2018, from https://www.ilo.org/ipec/Informationresources/WCMS_IPEC_PUB_9110/lang--en/index.htm
Express.co.uk. (2018). Children of conflict: The innocent victims of the civil war in Syria. Express.co.uk. Retrieved 27 April 2018, from https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/465105/Children-of-war-The-innocent-victims-of-the-civil-war-in-Syria
Files.acecqa.gov.au. (2018). BELONGING, BEING & BECOMING. Files.acecqa.gov.au. Retrieved 27 April 2018, from https://files.acecqa.gov.au/files/National-Quality-Framework-Resources-Kit/belonging_being_and_becoming_the_early_years_learning_framework_for_australia.pdf
Forbes.com. (2018). Forbes Welcome. Forbes.com. Retrieved 27 April 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewrossow/2018/02/28/cyberbullying-taken-to-a-whole-new-level-enter-the-blue-whale-challenge/#30c7eaca2673
Gómez?Paredes, J., Alsamawi, A., Yamasue, E., Okumura, H., Ishihara, K. N., Geschke, A., & Lenzen, M. (2016). Consuming childhoods: An assessment of child labor's role in Indian production and global consumption. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 20(3), 611-622.
Hendrick, H. (2015). Constructions and reconstructions of British childhood: An interpretative survey, 1800 to the present. In Constructing and reconstructing childhood (pp. 47-71). Routledge.
Read, J., Harper, D., Tucker, I., & Kennedy, A. (2018). Do adult mental health services identify child abuse and neglect? A systematic review. International journal of mental health nursing, 27(1), 7-19.
Sorin, R., & Galloway, G. (2006). Constructs of childhood: Constructs of self. Children Australia, 31(2), 12-21.
Un.org. (2018). Children. Un.org. Retrieved 27 April 2018, from https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/children/
Vanobbergen, B. (2004). Wanted: Real children. About innocence and nostalgia in a commodified childhood. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 23(2-3), 161-176.
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