Child Abuse, Childhood & History Essay

3341 words - 13 pages

INTRODUCTIONThe aim of this piece of research is to discuss whether societies have concerned themselves with issues of child abuse and child maltreatment in the past or if it is a recent phenomenon. The assignment also intends to determine if the notion of childhood existed in previous years or if it is a relatively new concept. The essay begins by mentioning the history of childhood and child abuse. Following on, there will be mention of various views on childhood. Then the assignment will move on to highlight the view of Philippe Aries (a very influential and popular writer on concept of childhood). Soon after his work will be critiqued and evaluated. Following on the essay will focus on A New Sociology of Childhood (NSC). This will then lead us to summarise the whole assignment.CHILD ABUSE, CHILDHOOD & HISTORYAccording to cawson (2001) the existence of child mistreatment in history is indisputable, but Scraton (1997) feels that the extent of such mistreatment and the interpretation of it within the societies where it took place are issues of greater contention.As we shall see, some historians consider that the vast majority of children in the past were carelessly treated and that this was seen as relatively normal because there was little sense of childhood as a protected status (Lindenmeyer 1997). Other historians take the view that extreme ill-treatment of children was not as common in recorded history as argued by the above and that while general standards of care for children were lower than what we expect today, largely because of harsh economic conditions, gross maltreatment was never accepted as normal (Merrick 1996). From this point of view Scraton (1997) argues that within the prevailing standards of each age there have been cruel and loving parents and those children who had cruel parents were likely to be abused, but society did not necessarily condone or accept such abuse.VARIOUS VIEWS ON CHILDHOODThe three main theories on the history of childhood have been recapitulated by Orme (2001) as:(a) Aries, Hoyles, Hunt, Shorter, Stone, Tucker, hold the opinion that before the 17th century there was no concept of childhood and children were regarded as being at the very bottom of the social scale and therefore unworthy of consideration.(b) Another view is that shared by De Mause, Pinchbeck & Hewitt, Plumb, Stone, and Thompson who all consider that there was a formal parent-child relationship, but parents were distant unapproachable beings and children were something inferior, whose demands and needs were not sufficiently valuable to be met.(c) Up to the 18th century, and again in the early 19th century, children were often brutally exploited and 'subjected to indignities now hard to believe,' This belief is shared by Aries, Sears, Hoyles, Hunt, Lyman, De Mause, Pinchbeck & Hewitt, Lumb, Shorter, Stone, Tucker.Cunningham (1991) then mentions that the above authors then go on to argue that a concept of childhood appeared from...

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