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How are the lives of children socially constructed? What implications does this have for work with children and families?

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Introduction

Elizabeth Evans Y4798307 K204 Etma6 How are the lives of children 'socially constructed'? What implications does this have for work with children and families? In order to discuss how the lives of children are socially constructed and the implications this can have when working with children and families, there will be an understanding of what social construction is. I will use reader chapter 3, 'Constructing childhood, constructing child concern' by Wendy Stainton Rogers, to show how childhood differs according to time, place and culture. I will discuss using block 1 and 3, and the relevant reader chapters to show how the implications of social construction can affect work with children and families Nice introduction Childhood is seen as a clear and distinct stage of life; many of us consider childhood a universal feature in human life, a natural stage of development. Social construction is the way in which something is created through individual, social and cultural interpretations, perceptions and actions of people. The definition and state of childhood has not stayed the same throughout history and varies from time to time and from place to place. Sociologists accept that children are biologically distinct from adults but argue that the social meaning given to these differences is socially defined (Stainton Rogers, reader, p.26). Good to start with a definition Culturally the social construction of childhood is extremely diverse. ...read more.

Middle

Good Change in ideas about children and childhood cause uncertainty and threaten social disorder. Practices must alter their position to recognise the exclusion and inequality caused by problematising of children. It is imperative not to blame Elizabeth Evans Y4798307 K204 Etma6 children for their circumstances, they are not passive victims and the impact of this prejudice can be detrimental to their development. Failure to recognise problematising can lead to a cycle of deprivation (Fonagy et al, topic 3, p. 28), where workers presume those that have suffered a bad childhood are incapable of being good parents, which is untrue as research shows it does not prevent bonding (topic 3, p.29). problematising, stereotypes and stigmatises which can result in practitioners having lower expectations, thus failing to meet the true needs of individuals. Even though each discourse has its own set of professional bodies they sometimes find the competing discourses confusing and also stressful, thus sometimes leading to employees failing. This in turn is highlighted by the media and leaves the government under immense pressure to tighten their policy and procedures leaving it even harder for professionals working with children and families, highlighted more recently in child protection with the cases of Victoria Climbe and also Baby 'P', (topic 15, p.15) ...read more.

Conclusion

Elizabeth Evans Y4798307 K204 Etma6 Listening to children and their opinions is crucial so that their concerns can be identified. Article 12 of the UNCRC identifies that children have a right to express their views and for them to be taken seriously (UNCRC, 1990, Wallchart). Thomas (reader, chapter 11) highlights the need to take time to listen to children, with professionals offering a trusting, honest relationship with them so they are enabled to communicate effectively. With effective communication the 'real' problems children are facing can possibly be alleviated through helping them to learn to become resilient. Practitioners need to promote resilience to enable a child to realise the positive experience around them, helping them to gain control and challenge the adversities that they may be facing, whilst recognising the commitment of the support systems they can access (Kosaba, 1979, topic 3, p.22). In conclusion from the discussion given, it is apparent that social construction can cause implications when working with children and families. As highlighted, social construction is based on ideas which dependant on a person's beliefs, attitudes and values can vary. Even in today's society, childhood is not seen as a universal stage of human life. Variations over time, place and culture are dramatic. Historians such as Aries had a profound impact on western society and their beliefs on childhood and also how a child should be perceived and treated; this in turn has shaped policies and practices for those working with children and families. ...read more.

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