Conflict view on Position of children.

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Conflict's reasons against The 'March of Progress' on Position of Children.

Inequalities among children

Not all children share the same status or experiences. For example, children of different nationalities are likely to experience different childhoods and different life chamces. 90% of the world's low birth-weight babies are born in the Third world. There are also gender differences between children. For example, according to Mayer Hillman (1993), boys are more likely to be allowed to cross or cycle on roads, use buses, and go out after dark unaccompanied. Jens Bonke (1999) found that girls fo more domestic labour - especially in lone-parent families, where they do five times more housework than boys. 

Similarly, there are ethnic differences: Julia Brannen's (1994) study of 15-16 year olds found that asian parents were more likely than other parents to be strict towards their daughters. Similarly, Ghazala Bhatti (1999) found that ideas of izzat (family honor) cound be a restriction, particularly on the behaviour of girls.

There are more important class inequalities between children:

  • Poor mothers are more likely to have low birth-weight babies, which in turn is linked to delayed physical and intellectual development.
  • According to Caroline Woodroffe (1993), children of unskilled manual workers are over three times more likely to suffere from hyperactivity and four times more likely to experience conduct disorders than the children of professionals.
  • According to Marilyn Howard (2001), children born into poor families are also more likely to die in infancy or childhood, to suffer longstanding illness, to be shorter in height, to fall behind at school, and to be placed on the child protection register.

Thus we cannot speak of 'children' in general as if they were all equal - social class, gender and ethnic differences affect their life chances.

Inequalities between children and adults:

There are also major inequalities of power between children and adults. March of progress writers argue that adults use this power for the benefit and protection of children, for example by passing laws against child labour. However, critics such as Shulamith Firestone (1979) and John Holt (1974) argue that many of the things that march of progress writers see positively as care and protection are in fact just new forms of oppression and control. For example, Firestone argues that 'protection' from paid work is not a benefit of children but a form of inequality. It is a way of forcibly segregating children, making them more dependent, powerless and subject to adult control than previously.

These critics see the need to free children from adult control, and so their view is described as 'child liberationism'. Adult control takes a number of forms.

Neglect and abuse:

Adult control over children can take the extreme form of physical neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse. In 2006, 31,400 children were on child protection registers because they were deemed to be at risk of significant harm - most often from their own parents. The charity ChildLine recieves over 20,000 calls a year


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