The March of Progress view of childhood argues that childhood has gradually improved over the last century or so.
However, conflict theorists argue that this view is quite rose tinted as it ignores the fact that not all children have benefited equally from the protections and services put in place.
We can point to at least the following significant inequalities among children...
Rich children on average benefit a LOT MORE from education than poor children.
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the UK are more than three years behind their peers by age of 15, according a recent study.
About two thirds of this difference is apparent at age 10, suggesting that differences in educational achievement between rich and poor kids emerge at a young age.
The study says one of the main reason for the difference is to do with quality of teachers. The best Qualified Teachers in the UK simply aren’t interested in teaching in schools in the most deprived areas, where there are often discipline problems.
Looking at the very top of the social class ladder – Half of all A and A* grades at A level in the UK are secured by the 7 per cent of students who are privately educated, and 4.5 times as much is spent on teaching them as on the average state-educated student.
Girls suffer more problems in childhood than boys
One example of this is that girls have to negotiate the psychological pressures of ‘objectification’ much more than boys – Evidence below
- A 2007 survey of Brownies aged 7-10 were asked to describe ‘planet sad’ – they spoke of it being inhabited by girls who were fat.
- A 2009 survey found that a quarter of girls thought it was more important to be beautiful than clever. – Youngpoll.com
- 16% of 15 -17 year old girls have avoided going to school because they were worried about their appearance
- One further consequence of objectification is that girls face sexual abuse from boys. (nspcc)
A second example comes in the number of Forced Marriages associated with Asian communities. In 2018 the British authorities dealt with 1500 cases of forced marriage, the vast majority of victims being Asian girls.
However, the actual numbers may be far greater…. Full fact reported that in 2011 the Forced Marriage Unit in the UK had taken up 400 live cases of forced marriage, but the site also reports that one expert in the field suggested that there might be up to 10 000 forced marriages or threats of forced marriage per year in the UK.
Child Protection services fail to protect many children from harm.
The most horrific example of this is from the town of Rotherham where gangs of Asian men groomed, abused and trafficked 1400 children while police were contemptuous of the victims and the council ignored what was going on, in spite of years of warnings and reports about what was happening.
A recent report commissioned by the council, covering 1997 to 2013, detailed cases where children as young as 11 had been raped by a number of different men, abducted, beaten and trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England to continue the abuse.
It said that three reports from 2002 to 2006 highlighted the extent of child exploitation and links to wider criminality but nothing was done, with the findings either suppressed or simply ignored. Police failed to act on the crimes and treated the victims with contempt and deemed that they were “undesirables” not worthy of protection.
- To what extent is childhood socially constructed?
- The March of Progress View of Childhood
- Toxic Childhood –
- Paranoid Parenting – forthcoming
- Is childhood disappearing?
This post has been written primarily for A-level Sociology students, studying the Families and Households module.
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