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Explain the differing reactions of people in Britain to the policy of evacuating children during the Second World War.

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Introduction

Explain the differing reactions of people in Britain to the policy of evacuating children during the Second World War. The Government had a strict policy that children, disabled, pregnant mothers, mothers of under-fives, and all other 'bouches inutiles' should be evacuated from big cities, as they had realised that some bombers would get through the defences. They didn't want the enemy to succeed by disrupting everyday life, so they wanted the children and their parents evacuated from the 'evacuable' areas and sent to the reception areas. They tried to convey that the children would have fun, they would enjoy it, and they would be well cared for. They made sure that all parents were well aware of the better conditions that would be provided in the reception areas. Eventually they had to accept people's reluctance in certain areas to let their children go, and also a reluctance to foster. The government released many different sorts of propaganda to persuade people to evacuated, aimed at many people. However, this message didn't reach all parents, who may not have wanted their family split up, and also it did not affect the other sorts of 'bouches inutiles' in some cases. The children were the group of people who were most affected by evacuation, and they were also the ones who the majority of propaganda was aimed at to evacuate. ...read more.

Middle

Since the children will be happy, then the adults themselves should also be happy. Education will be continued, and the same teachers kept the provide continuity. The government also used a guilt tactic in propaganda posters, by saying that if parents did not evacuate their children to the countryside (during the period of time known as the Phoney War), then they would be helping Hitler. But not only were there shown to be good aspects for the children and parents (and by result, the government), but also for the foster parents. Sources F and G agree that not all the children are from the slums, and they could very well be clean and well educated. They will be well clothed and already well looked after. The ideal foster parent is shown as being kind and understanding of their supposed social standing. However, it was not meant to be difficult to perform this essential role in evacuation; it was simple to take in a child (!). The children were all lovely, and although they might not have shown their gratitude openly, Source H assures us that they meant it on the inside. It was a countryperson's patriotic duty to take in a child, since it was service for the nation and the right thing to do, since they could do their bit for the war effort, and could even improve the child's health. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many parents were also embarrassed to send their child, since they were poorly equipped and had few clothes; they feared separation, since they did not know who would take care of the child if the parent died. They preferred to stay together in family groups, and die together if necessary, rather than abandon a child to the unknown. They also feared the so-called 'safe areas' being threatened by the Blitz. Some of the foster parents too hated the idea of being forced to take care of some unknown child. The traditional view of the evacuees was that they were a nuisance, they caused difficulty and had health problems, such as lice, bed wetting and bad manners. They were thought to all come from poverty and deprivation, and to have no respect for the foster families' homes; foster parents were warned to not expect thanks for work. Since the foster parents would have no idea about a child's cultural background, there was also awkwardness expected. The foster parents had obvious pre-conceptions of what the children would be like, and therefore the evacuees were given no chance to explain their social situation. In conclusion, I believe that the government tried to portray a positive view of a evacuation, but not even the huge amounts of propaganda could dent the stereotypical view of evacuation; a view which is still held today. The parents were scared by the events going on, but I think it is mostly because of the bad previous experiences of evacuation that took place during the Phoney War. ...read more.

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