U212 Tma 01

U212: – understanding childhood chapter 1.

  Chapter 1:   ‘What is a child?’ takes the issue of when childhood ends in order to explore the complex nature of childhood.   Immediately the problems inherent in defining childhood as a stage of life become apparent.   There are no universally agreed criteria for deciding when someone has reached the moment when she or he stops being a child and becomes an adult – in fact contradictions abound in different areas of social practice.   Children of the same age may be treated as competent and responsible in one area of life but immature and dependent in another.   This chapter explores how the three approaches of social constructionism, science and the law deal with the end of childhood.   The chapter focuses on one particular debate, about the age of criminal responsibility, illustrating how studies within scientific, social constructionist and applied approaches can shed light on how children who commit serious crimes are treated, so revealing complex and sometimes contradictory issues.

• Video 1, Band 1 – Children on childhood.
• Video 1, Band 2 – Brian and Karen.
• Audio 1, Band 1 – Perspectives on case study locations.

Section 1 – Introduction:

• The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) state a child is someone under the age of eighteen.
• Childhood is not simply defined by the bodily maturity of being a young human.   It is also marked by the way children are dressed, by the way they are treated, and by social and cultural norms about what they should and should not do.
• Concepts of what a child is vary from culture to culture and from one historical time to another.   Some definitions relate to children’s biological immaturity, some definitions are constituted in laws, but others are more socially and culturally constituted.
• Childhood can also be studied from different points of view.   This chapter explores three major viewpoints or approaches: scientific, social...