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Explain how scientific, social constructionist and applied approaches to the study of childhood can each help understand the reactions to the two young killers of James Bulger

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Introduction

Option 1 Explain how scientific, social constructionist and applied approaches to the study of childhood can each help understand the reactions to the two young killers of James Bulger In the UK, criminal responsibility is held at ten years old; children of this age are therefore regarded responsible for their actions. Some dispute this which leads to reforms in policy and laws. Some argue for a decrease in this age as they believe younger children can fundamentally understand right from wrong; however criminal responsibility is higher in other countries such as Norway therefore children under that age are held unaccountable for their unlawfulness. Others contend that the child is simply a construct of their society which dominates their behaviour rather than their age (W.S.Rogers,2003,pg.20). This illustrates how public disquiet can occur during extreme cases involving child criminals, much of which is influenced through media coverage. One extreme case was the murder of two year old James Bulger. His abductors were two ten year old children Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. James was led through a devastating journey of beatings and humiliation which resulted in his tragic death. The toddler's body was placed on a local railway track and concealed by branches which is where he was found. ...read more.

Middle

The Puritan discourse was originated by philosopher, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), who believed that children were born with evil intent and required guidance by parents and society to curtail these intentions to generate virtuous individuals (Book1, chapter2, pg63). Jon and Robert were cast in a very Puritan light through the newspaper headlines, they were also often referred to as 'the killers' or by their surnames. They were also treated in a very Puritan manner throughout their trial as it was undertaken within an adult court. Proceeding the trial, the British Judicial system was accused of, trialled and found guilty of mistreatment of Thompson and Venables which resulted in a monetary settlement for the two boys (The Guardian,1999). Social constructionists would argue much of a child's behaviour is a direct result of their social background; the boys were brought up within less fortunate residential areas. Contrary to the scientific belief of universal laws of behaviour, social constructionists would argue that in order to understand people's actions, a social account must be devised (Book 1,Chapter1,pg26). By understanding a person's background including where they live and personal experiences, it is thought that these influence future behaviour. Media coverage also cast James in a very Romantic light; this concept was devised by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) ...read more.

Conclusion

It is beneficial, however, to contradict one another in order to enhance present laws which affect how children are treated. Although I believe that children need to be treated differently to adults in court, I also believe that continuity in their treatment throughout the ordeal must also be reached as they are treated as both adults and as children during varying stages. With regard to the murder of James Bulger I would have liked to explore the factor of peer pressure as I feel that without one another they would not have committed the crime. As for Thompson and Venables, I feel that they are also victims of their own wrongdoings as they now face a lifetime of guilt and hibernation. (1461 words) REFERENCE PAGE Kehily.J and Montgomery.H 'Innocence and Experience' in Woodhead.M and Montogomery.H (eds) Understanding Childhood an Interdisciplinary Approach, Milton Keynes, The Open University Rogers.S (2003) 'What Is a Child?' in Woodhead.M and Montgomery.H (eds) Understanding Childhood an Interdisciplinary Approach, Milton Keynes, The Open University The Guardian (1999) 'James Bulger's Killers Did Not Get a Fair Trial', Guardian Unlimited Website, http://www.guardian.co.uk/bulger/article/0,,195290,00.html (accessed 17th February 2006) The Guardian (2001) 'Court Grants James Bulger's Murderers Anonymity for Life', Guardian Unlimited Website, http://www.guardian.co.uk/GWeekly/Story/0,,420393,,00.html (accessed 17th February 2006) The Sun (2001) 'Bulger Killers Must Stay Caged, Reformed or Not', The Sun Archive Website, http://www.thesun.newsint-archive.co.uk/pages/S.asp?pubsel=TSN&ScrchText=James+Bulger (accessed 17th February 2006) ...read more.

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