Contemporary Issues for Children and Families

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Contemporary Issues for Children and Families
“Both the status of children and the role of the family have undergone significant changes over the course of this century”.
From Contemporary Issues in the Early Years, Gillian Pugh (ed.) page 71

The concept of childhood and how it’s changed over the past 30 years
Back in the Middle Ages, children were seen simply as miniature adults. According to Philippe Aries (1962), children used to wear the same sort of clothes as their parents; they shared adults work and leisure. Children were not assumed to have needs different from adults, nor were they shielded from many aspects of adult life. Many children died soon after birth and it was seen as God’s will and a blessing.
The status of the child and the concept of childhood have changed significantly from these times. Melvyn Bragg in 1999 noticed that the meaning and the story of childhood have been changed monumentally. Children join the workforce later, they are born into smaller families, they tend to spend their parents’ money rather than contributing to family coffers and they are handed over to the school for what used to be called the best years of their lives.
30 years ago, something very important took place for children around the world: the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1989. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the UK government in 1991, states that a child “means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” (Article 1, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989). In short, according to the Convention, children should have the right to safety, education, protection and health.
The needs and interests of children also changed over the past 30 years. Mia Kellmer Pringle (1974) identified children’s needs not as material needs (such as…...

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