Tma 01

To what extent do children’s everyday lives challenge the construction of childhood as a time of innocence?

This essay will explore the extent to which children’s everyday lives challenge the construction of childhood as a time of innocence.   It will draw upon visual and audio representation of childhood along with social and cultural beliefs.

The theme of innocence in relation to childhood can be viewed through three approaches; scientific, social constructionist and applied however innocence itself is difficult to define.   By focusing on a social constructionist approach, childhood innocence can be viewed through the three main discourses; puritan, romantic and tabula rasa.   The puritan discourse sees childhood as a time of evil and wildness.   Hobbes believed that children were born unruly and anarchistic whereas Rousseau of the Romantic discourse believed that children were inherently good but corrupted by society. The philosopher Locke felt that all children were born as tabula rasa, a blank slate and it was their upbringing that shaped them. (Montgomery 2003 p 62-67)   The main body of this essay will explore the term of innocence in relation to child sexuality and child crime as well as the representation of childhood innocence in the media.

Warner (1994) revealed the many connotations surrounding innocence and how it is represented in six different areas; the innocence (romantic), blank slates (tabula rasa), psychoanalytical and child as a separate state from adults. She felt children’s innocence was being lost in the modern world partly through positioning them to be consumers.   Throughout history childhood innocence has been questioned - the poems Infant Joy and Infant Sorrow (Blake 1789-93) give an example of childhood and innocence.   Mayhew (Watercress girl, 1861) is shocked that the girl of 8 has ‘lost all childish ways’. The circumstances he finds her in and the information gained from their conversation does not fit with his ideal of...