Childhood Essay

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Examine the extent of and the reasons for changes in the position of children since industrialisation.

Before the 1600, children of 5years belonged to the adult world. They were considered to be adults and there fore must make their way in the world like adults, by working. Toys for children did not exist, and they were considered economic assets, rather than a symbol of peoples love. They were also criminally liable, meaning that they could be hung at the age of 7 for theft. In this time period there was no childhood after 5 years of age. Social construction means when something has been created by society. Children could be said to have been created by society in the pre 1700, and Neil Postman (1977) supports this view, he says that childhood is invented and that it is slowly disappearing and that's wrong. He points trend towards giving children traditional unsupervised games, the growing similarity of adult and children’s clothing and even to cases of children committing adult crimes such as murder. In his view the cause of both of the emergence of childhood and now its disappearance lies in the rise and fall of print culture and its replacement by television culture.

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There are many reasons for the changes in the position of children. These include the following changes during the 19th and 20th century.

Laws restricting child labour and excluding children from paid work. From being economic assets who could earn a wage, children became an economic liability, financially dependent on their parents.  Another reason would be that the introduction of compulsory schooling in 1880 had a similar effect. Especially for the children of the poor (middle-and upper-class children were already receiving education) the rising of the school leaving age has extended this period of dependency.

Child protection and welfare legislation, such ...

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