Childhoodis the period of time stretching from infancy to adolescence (teenage) stage of life. Issues, theories and concepts have been put forth attempting to put some meaning to childhood. For instance the modern society perceives children as passive and surviving at the mercies of the wider society. Adults do not seek to learn anything from the children and they assume that childhood is a period meant to transform kids into dependable adults. There is a need to view childhood differently to be able to respond positively to their needs and to understand the stage as crucial in helping us understand adulthood and humanity in general.
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As a matter of fact, childhood experiences, plays a vital role in shaping the later stages of life. Childhood is perceived as a social structure, which determines the ideal institutions where proper childhood development would be ensured. Generally, social structures offer both opportunities one is exposed to and limitations are determined by a child’s socio-economic background and its physical endowments (Stearns, 2003). A child in ideal situation is expected to have two parents who provide everything and ensure moral uprightness.
The child is given enough time to relax and has siblings. The parents are expected to provide security and facilities for play. Parents commence preparations for the infant long way before the mother delivers the kid. However, in terms of childhood development, from a historical perspective, the early American society never celebrated infancy. Childhood was characterized by missing parental care, high rate of infant mortality. There was not time for taking the kid through all the stages of growth and development.
Where parents were missing due to reasons like death, young children were charged with the task of taking care of the others. However, good morals were upheld all through. Child labourwas prevalent as well as early marriages. In the late 1700s and early 1800 there was growing concern on childhood. Between 1840s and 1900s socio-economic changes taking place revolutionized the ideal of child upbringing. Parents became more concerned about children; they started emphasizing on childeducation. A scientific aspect was incorporated in child rearing wherebychild developmentwas closely monitored.
Racial concerns arose. Industrial development led to improved standards of life and reduced childhood deaths. However, some children especially of immigrant families were still in slavery. These children were poorly treated subjected to much work and not allowed to go through formal education. Some children ended up in orphanages where proper care was ensured. Other children went missing and still others would end up dying. In the twentieth century children were regarded as of economic value. They offered cheap labour earning highly needed wages in thefamily.
There was a rising need to occupy the kids with work to discourage laxity. In the contemporary society children are perceived as of less economic value. Infact childhood is regarded as an economic liability. Children, spend more of parents’ financial resources than they contribute to the same. Young children’s perception of things in the US and the world at large has been subjected to a number of influences. Their access to information materials and gadgets like TV, video and computer exposes them to a wide field of knowledge.
These triggers and stimulate a mental process that generates a diversified perception of issues to do with life. For instance, programmes on TV and videos showing modern family life would touch issues like children rights. Children acquire knowledge on family issues like the role of parents in a family, career, and family conflicts among other issues at a very tender age. It is not amazing to realize that some programmes highlighting crucial family issues likedivorce, separation, child abuseappear on screen long way before the kids succumb to sleep.
As a matter of fact, the media has made the children to feel like they are their own caretakers. It is worth noting that in some programmes, adult voices and perceptions have been superimposed on very young children. Romantic movie clips and actual programmes are not rare on TVs in the early evening hours. This most assuredly influences children’s perception of issues to do with sexuality, love, hate and social conflicts. In some movies, a character commitssuicide, murder or causes chaos in their attempt to either express themselves or to get out of trouble.
All these happenings are bound to model the character andpersonalityof children since they are also exposed to similar circumstances in this world. No wonder cases of young snipers have been reported in the recent past in our society. The greatest challenge and risk is that parents and guardians cannot exercise full control over what their children go through and their exposure to information materials. Children can virtually access any information anywhere even if they are denied access at home. Due to social-economic problems some parents have ended up in serious conflicts.
A man and his wife settle scores physically when reason fails to avail solutions for their pressing issues. This has exposed many children to utterviolenceand most of them perceive this world as a harsh and chaotic place and some develop aggression in their bid to conquer life’s challenges. Other end up violent when their tactics fail to work. Children face challenging and conflicting situations both at home and away from home. With increasing social-economic challenges, children of the world are exposed to situations that influence their character and personality very early.
Many parents who are especially keen on child development are very anxious and rather troubled due to the deteriorating morals and social values. Evil is inculcated in children’s lie s at very early stages of child’s development and some caretakers are simply watching desperately as their children vanish in the mire of moral rottenness. Parents and guardians are increasingly concerned about the eventualities given the direction the current (modern) society has taken. For instance, drug use and abuse at childhood stages. Drug use is a commonplace thing in schools.
It is a matter of great concern since a drug addicted young generation spells doom to the future of the society. Lack of sobriety among the youths would result to stagnating social-economic systems. The other nagging issue is about the dwindling interest in schooling. Children seem to pursue entertainment and quickmoneyearners at the expense of a formal system of learning, which incorporates all aspects of human growth development. This produces a dull; dump and unrealistic clique that would lack the remotest idea of how to progressively run the socio-economic aspects of our society. Fun centers are always congested.
Youngsters are pursuing fame and money (wealth) at all costs in some instances with dire consequences. The young generation seems to be dragging the entire society into Hades. Learning institutions seem to design their programmes to suit the whims of the learners this basically being a result of constant expression of fear andanxietyby parents whose children’s performance grow dismal. The fear by the parents is that the children are bound to develop disinterest in education if their performance worsens. There is an increasing desire to score high grades and join better and highly ranked higher learning institutions.
Those who fail to measure up resort to entertainment parlors. A mention of physical growth, fitness or posture would cause some emotional tremor. This is an issue of great concern among Americans. High economic development rate has made many young people afford high calorific foods. Eating habits have changed and cases ofobesityhave been increasing day after day. However, the increasing concerns about the issue of body size, weight, posture and fitness is the reason behind the fast rate of growth of the fashion beauty and modeling industry.
This raises a myriad of questions about the extent to which the children should be allowed to make decisions about their physical and emotional development. Most parents are extremely anxious about the developments that may arise during the course of growth and development of their children. Streets trodden by youngsters struggling to bear massive weight are commonplace in America. The issue of physical development among other social challenges affects a child’s self esteem. For instance, an obesed child is likely to develop low self-esteem. Pooracademicperformance would also have similar effects on the self-esteem of a child.
Parents are especially concerned about eating habits of their children but it still remains an evasive issue since many eateries are being put up offering high calorie and very attractive foods. What leads the youngsters to such eating habits and poor dietary programmes remains a very tricky puzzle. As the parents battle with the issue offood, one would point an accusing finger at them since some abandon their duty as mothers at very early stages of child development. For instance, some due to careers quit breastfeeding a couple of days after delivery.
Theresponsibilityof feeding the child rests squarely on baby sitters, some of who might either lack crucial knowledge on proper diet or others out of defiance dump unhealthy foods into the child’s tummy. A child graduates to teenage with the same problem. Boredom is a feeling that would quite well describe the emotional orientation of most youths in our society. Every formal system seems to be a bore to the young generation. Schoolwork is boring and many are reluctant to pursue higher education. Parents are very much concerned about the amount of homework assigned to the children.
On one hand the children feeling bored by the too much task given by the teachers to be tackled at home by the children; on the other hand, the parents feel that too much homework denies them control over the activities performed by their children during their time with them at home. Teachers still feel that they have an obligation to steer learning among the children to greater heights. How a compromise would be struck given the above situations remains a hard nut to crack. This concern revolves around not only the issue of homework assigned by teachers to children but also around other chores both at home and away from home.
The government is on very high alert concerning issues to do with child labour. The problem is how to determine what amounts to child labour. Determining how much work a child should be given at home and elsewhere is an issue to be debated upon. With the growing enlightenment on children rights is bound to be a bone of contention. However, hiring of children to work in the manufacturing and processing industries remains out of question and punitive measures should be meted on whoever commits such a disorderly thing. A great deal of anxiety rests in the hearts of parents and guardians when an issue of special needs arises.
How such children are handled matter a lot. There is a need for more schools that can handle such cases. But parents are more concerned about their welfare. Children with both physical and mental disadvantages are not easy to cater for and the number and capacity of the institutions handling such might not be adequate and this has been the essence of parental concerns. Another issue arises when a consideration is made on whether to surrender the disabled children or other children with special needs full time to such special institutions or part timely.
With the busy parent schedules this becomes a big issue. Children are also exposed to traffic risks. How roads and streets are manned determines how safe or unsafe children can be on the roads. Children use roads frequently on foot either from schools or other events and occasions. Road safety for children is an issue of concern among parents. Issues range from delays in traffic snirl-ups to accidents both in public service vehicles or private cars. Though rare, parents are also afraid in case a child sneaks a car out of the homestead.
Concerns aboutchildren safetydo not only arise on the roads but also at home and elsewhere. Safety in the house, on the compound and away from home arouses great concern among parents. Parents strictly and keenly monitor the activities of the children whenever they are around them. At times they are concerned about the punitive measures taken by teachers against the children. Another issue about safety arises when a babysitter comes into the scene. Fear engulfs parents concerning the level of safety a babysitter would ensure on children. Babysitters might not have a deep emotional attachment to the child.
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Negligence by a babysitter would pose a safety risk and also physical and psychological anomalies. There is also a risk of child abductions. Parents are afraid of situations whereby after allowing their children to move around freely, they end up under the custody of strangers who later turn up demanding hefty amounts of cash before they release them. This is not uncommon with the escalating crime levels. Other concerns include infant sexual exploitation. There have been a number of cases of infant sexual exploitation in the American society. The worst is when a close relative is implicated in the vice.
Children are constantly exposed to such dangers, especially with the weakening social ties and parents busy schedules which rob them of the opportunity to constantly and consistently monitor their children’s activities. Many self-confessed victims of sexual harassment have brought to our attention the looming danger. The society has almost reached a state of moral decantation. Some people seem to have lost their sense of reason. Children below five years of age have fallen victims. Other concerns that leave parents torn between issues touch the areas of toilet training.
How it is conducted at that tender age determines the psychological development of the child. Some parents lose their patience when the child turns out to be a slow learner. This according to psychoanalysts tends to behavioral maladjustments later in a child’s life. This again raises the issue of whether or not the mother is the one charged with the responsibility of conducting the exercise. Babysitters are known to be harsh especially when the children are unco-operative. However some mothers subject their children to harsh toile training. Many parents are usually anxious about how fast their children learn to control their bowel movements.
Another issue of paramount concern is breast-feeding. The stage of growth and development at which an infant is weaned (or stops breastfeeding) contributed a great deal to the physical and psychological development of the infant. A child who stops breastfeeding early than expected is likely to develop poorly physically and psychologically. This also tampers with the emotional attachment between the child and the mother and the child is likely to develop defiant behaviour later in life. Parents are afraid and anxious about future development of their children given their early administration of bottled foods.
The changing social structures coupled with the negative publicity carried out by the media have also caused too much anxiety among parents. Family ties are weakening and many parents are opting for divorce or separation. Children are majorly the sufferers. Media never ceases to feature movies that uphold violent behaviour and crime. Infact movie stars are perceived even by youngsters, as heroes who murder many and commit the vilest things. Children have their role models in movies. Romantic movies are filled with scenes portraying hatred, jealousy, obscenity, murder, suicide and revenge.
The young children are adopting the same negative traits and some are living out the characters they see in the movies. Family feuds are not rare occurrences in our society. To sum up, childhood development and child upbringing are issues that parents are very much concerned in America. Parents face numerous anxious moments in their efforts to bring up their children in the most ideal conditions and ways. Readership of publications highlighting issues concerning childhood is growing tremendously as parents battle with the challenges they encounter in control over their lives of their children.
The wider society on the other hand has a major role to play in shaping the character of the young. There is a tag of war as the two scrambles for control. Parent’s concerns and anxiety is genuine and valid. Every adult in the US should feel responsible for the upbringing of the upcoming young generations. The media should be instrumental in promoting proper childhood development by designing programs that uphold acceptable childhood behaviour as well as educating all childhood social institutions on the most ideal ways of bringing up children.
And the government should provide structures that promote proper childhood development. A central issue that has been raised over time is about childhood innocence. In the earlier times infants were perceived as innocent. However with the emerging issues in the society and exposure of sexual materials by the media, children are exposed to sexual issues and abuse at tender stages of growth and development. One would wonder whether children are innocent as earlier perceived or not.
The society, including media should feel responsible for shaping childhood. The fashion industry should be more responsible to admit the right ages. A fairer comparison should be drawn between children and adults. Children should be enlightened on their right, and the dangers and risks they are exposed to. Much light should be she on the existing opportunities available for the children to fully exploit their talents.