The term ‘child-centred’ refers to treating the needs of children as a priority over all other concepts. It can be argued that Britain has evolved into a child-centred society when comparing today’s society with Aries’ research on Medieval Europe. The changes in the way of life accentuate the importance placed on children in today’s society.
The first and foremost difference which can be realised is that youngsters are referred to as ‘children.’ Item A also emphasises the point that childhood is seen as a separate stage in life. In Medieval Europe, children both looked and were treated like adults. The fact that this no longer occurs in Britain today shows that it has successfully become a child-centred society.
Also, children were previously seen as economic assets who contributed towards the income in the household. In areas such as northern Uganda, children are rejected by their families and made to fend for themselves at the age of three. This is a common practise in the Ik tribe. In Britain today, children are seen as incapable of looking after themselves up until they reach the age of thirteen/fourteen. Education has been made compulsory and the safety of children is accentuated. Within schools and other centres which concentrate on the priorities of children, procedures such as criminal record checks are undertaken by the Criminal Record Bureau. The concept of compulsory education results in postponing adulthood – children are protected from adulthood for as long as possible.
The treatment of children differs greatly from the Ik tribe in northern Uganda. Children are bestowed with love and affection from their parents. Privileges are given as well as gifts. Myths and legends are told again and again for their entertainment.
When looking at broader concepts, it can be found that policies and legislation contribute towards Britain’s child-centred society. Item B provides the example of the Children Act of 1908 which resulted in different treatment between adults and children in the legal system. The Child Protection Act was also introduced later on. Legislations like these directly acknowledge children as an important and vulnerable part of our society and treat their needs as a priority. Policies such as Sure Start also do this through providing centres for both the children and their parents.
On the other hand, there are many things which show that Britain may not seem as child-centred as it appears to be. Neil Postman (1982) argues that childhood is disappearing due to two reasons. The first is that televisions expose children to the adult world where they can access it at any time. Secondly, he argues that children act less childlike whilst adults enjoy looking younger.
In addition to this, in families where both parents work, the result is that they are not present in their child’s life often enough. Quality time is not spent together and to compensate for this, presents and privileges are given.
However, these arguments can be counteracted as David Brooks (2001) concluded that parents are overprotective and are much more concerned about their child’s safety. Furthermore, research carried out by Julie Evans and Joan Chandler (2006) found that both parents and children found material goods as communicative and loving. In Britain today, concepts such as material possessions are excelled and so, are constantly given to children. These arguments show that Britain’s parents concentrate on what their child wants and needs.
In conclusion, the argument concerning whether Britain has become child-centred or not holds many concepts. Individuals can emphasise legislations, policies, etc but there can also be another simpler explanation. It can simply be the fact that children are disappearing. Our population today holds a smaller fraction of children than it did in previous years and so, this can be used as the final argument.