Childhood is relative across cultures: if it were natural it would be the same the world over. E.g. in the Pacific island of Tikopia children are allowed to use dangerous objects.
* Ariès (1962)
In Medieval times the concept of childhood did not exist, and children were seen as little adults. The concept of childhood emerged in the 17th century with the education of upper-class children but was made universal around 1850 with the separation of children from the adult world by law through the introduction of compulsory education and factory acts.
Bukatko & Daehler (2001)
Criticism of Ariès: in medieval Europe there were laws specific to children e.g. prohibiting marriage under 12.
* Stainton Rogers (2001)
Images of childhood in 20th century Europe:
- Child as innocent requires laws to protect them and allow them to live in a carefree world. Children Act 1989: child's welfare prioritised in court
- Child as wicked and sinful requires laws and measures to discipline them. Educational policy: the form and content of the curriculum is controlled by adults
* Postman (1983)
Childhood is disappearing as a result of the mass media, which allow children to access the secrets of the adult world.
* Lee (2001)
- Childhood and adulthood are uncertain terms in the 21st century, due to the increasing stability of adult life with regards to relationships and jobs. Children can no longer look to adults to guide them through childhood. This has led to a growth in child rights and children being seen as responsible for their own destiny and decisions, e.g. Children Act 1989
- Criticism of Postman: childhood has not disappeared, it is simply more ambiguous.
- Children are exercising power as individuals, for example in the consumer market (link: Murdock, economic function of the family; Marxism, pester power and consumerism), but are still ultimately dependent on their parents.
Criticism of Postman: children are distinct from adults because they are a distinct consumer group and are exercising their rights as consumers. (link: Murdock, economic function of the family; Marxism, pester power and consumerism)
Education Act 1880
Prevention of Cruelty to, and Protection of, Child
Includes restrictions on children's employment.
UN Declaration of children's rights 1989
International document stating the rights of children that should be recognised by all countries