- oD 50.50
Childhood and youth
Few crimes elicit collective condemnation more quickly than those involving children: ‘Child labour’, ‘child trafficking’, ‘child slavery’. These all apparently represent the ‘worst of the worst’, and in each case the prefix ‘child’ renders the bad awful. This is the power of the concept ‘childhood’. It is reflected in the assumed and unquestioned ‘rightness’ of campaigns to ‘abolish child labour’ or to ‘end child slavery’. Everyone is on board. From media celebrities and abolitionist activists to morally questionable governments and powerful international agencies, all claim to know what childhood ‘is’ and thus what needs to be done to protect it. This is highly problematic for at least two reasons. First, the premises, rationales, and underlying concepts powering contemporary child savers are seriously shaky. Indeed, they are quite often narrow, ethnocentric and highly particular. Second, the actions and interventions of these same child savers can be extremely damaging to the very children and young people they seek to support. Read on...