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REF NO.: 198

SUBJECT: View of children as passive innocents poses challenges: Sociologist to examine implications in public philosophy lecture
DATE: Feb. 24, 2006

Note to editors:

A sociologist will invite adults to think about how they think about children when she delivers the St. John’s Public Philosophy Lecture at The Ship Pub on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Dr. Karen Stanbridge of Memorial University’s Sociology Department will explain how the current view of childhood as a time of innocence, and children as vulnerable and somewhat incapacitated, differs significantly from the way children were viewed centuries ago. She will also explore how this perception colours the reaction to children who do not fit the mold.

“Adults today are immediately suspicious about children who exhibit adultlike behaviour, goals or activities,” she says. “In the past, children were not as sheltered, and there was less of a tendency to worry about their development. They were more exposed to the adult world and adult situations.”

The perception of children changed over a long period of time because of several factors. While, overall, the changed view has been good for children, there is a negative side. Dr. Stanbridge notes that some researchers feel this perception of children reduces them to “not yets” – not yet adults, not yet fully rational, not yet competent, she says.

She will also address how our expectation of childhood innocence impacts the way we treat kids, and can pose particular challenges when dealing with kids who have had “unsheltered” lives, such as child soldiers or those in the sex trade.

All are welcome to attend this St. John’s public philosophy lecture on Tuesday night from 8:30-10 p.m. at the Ship Pub on Duckworth Street.

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