Childhood In Crisis: Retrospective

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This essay will discuss the treatment of young children and lawbreakers and how it has changed from the 19th century through to today.

Crime and the management of criminals are consistently questioned today and have throughout the years. The fine balance between reform, rehabilitation, and discipline has fluctuated from the beginning of time and remains a main focal point in many discussions and debates. Youngsters have always been up to mischief finding themselves answerable to the law. How they are dealt with by society is the change that has occurred.

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Research carried out on child development established that in the mid-1700s, approximately 33% of babies and toddlers were abandoned by parents who left them on doorsteps or outside children’s homes (Archard,1993). In most cases, this left children growing up on the streets fending for themselves. Their only way of consuming food was to eat from bins or breaking the law by stealing.

In the nineteenth century, youngsters didn’t have a huge significance. No conventional learning occurred inside homes. Mothers for the most part didn’t have the time to invest energy with their youngsters or sustain them. The birth of the industrial revolution when workers were highly sought after meant parents would surrender their youngsters in return for looking after them. They were forced to do perilous jobs, for example, work machinery, climb up and sweep out chimneys, and going down tiny tunnels because of their small frames. In return, they were fed gruel so it’s hardly surprising that many children ran away and began a life of crime (OPCM, 2018). These youngsters would then find themselves in the worst of predicaments.

Pre-industrial revolution, no difference was made between offenders of any age, with children potentially finding themselves in adult prisons. Reform campaigners inquired about youngsters who offended and how they should be dealt with. It was clear to see that imprisoning them along with adults would only encourage future offending. Then again, they accepted the notion of harsh disciplines and so 1854 saw the opening of the first reformatory schools for offenders under sixteen years old. They were incredibly hard with firm control upheld by physical punishment.

Youngsters were a vital resource yet dealt with rather like creatures, the industrial revolution established the framework for the market of low-paid child workers. Factory children were put to work for twelve hours plus per day. When education presented itself to the wider society, parliament started passing laws to shorten the hour’s children worked. Yet the first ruling applied with the assistance of factory assessors came to fruition in 1833. Schooling was not viewed as a need for all children and the duty of the State until circa 1870, the most unfortunate citizens couldn’t bear the cost of school which was eventually quashed in 1891.

Children of the early 19th century were accustomed to harsh conditions and thrashings, those from poorer families wore hats displaying the word ‘dunce’. Children who dressed as adults were expected to behave like adults. The degree of disregard towards children is evident in that play areas were not constructed until approximately 1859.

Analysts acknowledge youngsters today live better than those of the 19th century. The debate does however continue to what degree childhood has altered since then and how an adult’s approach to children has changed. In that capacity, children from past times worked alongside their families from a young age. Attempts to end child labor have continued through the years by governing bodies and welfare systems around the world. Unfortunately, it appears that regardless of the changing observations towards children, the information demonstrates otherwise.

Children need to be able to distinguish their environment to make the correct associations with the world surrounding them. If this essential comprehension is defective, the future would unquestionably hold much consequence, and a significant number of them would be unwanted. When a child comprehends the world around them, they are ready to get a handle on theoretical ideas and hopefully use logic to arrive at important resolutions in future. This was unfortunately not the case for most past century children.

Today, the numerous laws to guard our children against harm bodes well. All forms of abuse, neglect, and beatings are viewed as violations against children. Distinct laws for the protection of children are presently set up to guarantee a child is treated with sensitive consideration. It seems that parental affection is not as much of an instinct but only a reflection of what parents consider to be their duties towards their offspring (Higgonet, 1998).

The nineteenth century to today’s childhood differs significantly. Innovations and science have soared comprehension of life tenfold. Despite the reality that the industrial revolution constructed the framework of advancement, we have found in previous years the best speed in improvement has really come about since the 1950s.

The birth of the internet and social media has without a trace of uncertainty the biggest significance in the life of today’s child. They are not just mindful of style and social standards; they are additionally mindful of their entitlement to be spared from their parents’ mistreatment. Whilst current times are thought to be graceful for a child, it should likewise be held accountable for making children more exposed to corruptive behaviors. Anti-social behaviours and drug use in children increase daily even with laws to control these intolerable acts.

The causes of childhood crime today are vast in comparison to that of the 19th-century survival, then so is how it is dealt with. John Venables and Robert Thompson for instance were sent to secure care units to serve out their sentences for the murder of James Bulger; as it was deemed inappropriate to send ten years olds to an adult prison. Whilst they received rehabilitation in the hopes of curbing reoffending. As we can see there was a great lack of empathy for children in past centuries and the damage this caused. It is therefore apparent that as time has moved on and although there is always room for improvement, the treatment of young offenders has changed significantly for the better. 


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