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Understanding children has not been an easy task at hand because it seems that several factors have to be solved to understand their viewpoint. To understand this perception further on I have taken two representations and provided an analysis on such a topic. Images of children can be found everywhere where children are shown smiling or playing. This is however not always children are confronted with several challenges and one of them seems to be child abuse and neglect (Zhang, 2019). Both of these concepts that have been chosen will be discussed thoroughly to get a deeper understanding of how ideas about children and childhood are constructed. Through this essay, there will be a better understanding of how social interactions, as well as social relations, can be interpreted from the images that have been chosen. All of this is necessary to understand as it will help to create a better understanding of how children are represented in society and what are the various factors that can be associated with them. The reason for choosing the images is that both of them seem to be having different parts that children seem to be faced with.
The first image is entitled 'Children playing happily in the forest', has been collected from the Noun Project website. This website is used by individuals who want to find specific images on a topic that is provided. This website provides images based on the keywords that are provided and to achieve these images keywords such as child, curiosity, playing, multiracial, etc. were provided. The image is denoting that four children are playing happily in the woods. From the picture, it can also be seen that all of the children are laughing at each other hence showing that they are in a joyful state. Further looking deeper into the image shows us that the child in the front has a magnifying glass which denotes that both studying and also curiosity nature is present (Zhang, 2019). The cultural aspect has also been seen as it can be seen that there are children that are present of various backgrounds. It seems that physical activity, as well as innocence, seem to be the key point that is being offered and it shows how active children tend to be. Parents who have children of such an age as shown in the picture are targeted as it helps to see why it is necessary to look into the innocence of children. They would not be using this website that is shown instead the essay would help them to look at children effectively,
The second image that has been present shows that a young girl is crying in the corner while the adult's shadow has been shown shouting with a hand raised. This image has been taken from the website of Freepik. This website can be used by individuals who are looking at various topics to find what is wanted by them. The picture helps to see the other side that children are faced with which is hard to look at. The girl crying can be from both the shouting that is being done by the shadow figure and also the hand that was raised helps to see that the child has also been facing violence. This picture seems to be for the whole world as it seems that there are children around the world that are faced with such levels of both torture and mental stress which is not good at such a young age. The raising of the first that is present in the image has shown that there is a huge threat of violence that a child has been faced with and this concerns the whole world as there are several such cases that are present across the world. The World Health Organisation has shown around 1 billion children who are aged between 2-17 years have faced a specific kind of violence whether it be physical, emotional, or even sexual (WHO, 2020).
The key factor that can be focused upon through the first image is that of innocence. According to Dahlberg et al (2007), they have shown that childhood is mostly represented as innocence as children are known to be co-constructers of knowledge. A child can be considered as a blank sheet of paper hence whatever one writes on it will become out to be (Garlen, 2019). The same can be said for a child as it seems that whatever a child perceives has them acting similarly. This further goes on to denote that a child needs to have positive learnings presented so that they can further focus more on doing the right thing later on in their lives. Authors Bragg et al (2013) have shown that innocence is not only a part of childhood but also represents the fact that adults also have innocence in them but it seems to be lost in time for them. The author further that innocence is a value possessed by children as it does not involve politics, money, racism, or even sexuality. These are the mundane affairs that the children in the image seem to be free. Hence, representing the level of simplicity that they are currently in. Innocence is an important part of a child because it helps them to deal with uncertainty and fear that might be present. The children in the image appear to be in the forest and the level of uncertainty is present as some of them are wearing shorts while others are jeans and also some of them are not even looking at the camera when the picture was being taken. The level of uncertainty is present because it seems that they do not know what injuries can occur to them. This is why the children in the picture are happy as their innocence has not made them a part of the various factors that can lead to loss of it (McCarthy, 2008).
The image is set in the woods which brings the point of safety and vulnerability to be looked at. But this should not stop them from allowing their children to further exploration as it would limit their happiness and this has been shown in the picture that is presented. Parents who have kids for the first time are most likely to experience the term known as surplus safety. It shows that parents are highly anticipatory for any type of injury that might befall their children even if it is a minor one, it goes on to limit the amount of physical activity for children (Wyver et al., 2010). The term vulnerability of children is hard to come by as it seems that some studies have shown that children are vulnerable hence they can easily be pointed in a certain direction however other studies have shown that children are not as vulnerable as they seem. The first aspect has shown since children are highly vulnerable then this can be beneficial for organizations that target children as it is due to this that they can make advertisements and sell products to them. The magnifying glass that is present in the hand of one of the children shows that they might have seen this somewhere else and followed to take it out and explore. On the other hand authors like Albon, (2011) have argued that children are also highly competent as well as vulnerable. This is because since children seem to be picking up on what they are looking at, then it likely that they will have their own opinion on what is wrong and right. Though the judgment might not be highly detailed or researched upon this does not mean that the opinion of children does not matter.
Two aspects that go occur simultaneously in the image are joyfulness and physical activity that is occurring. This can be looked further on through philosophical notion that shows what a good childhood is. This notion shows that every child, irrespective of the fact that what their childhood has been or what they have faced, are equally prepared for becoming effective adults. This is not always the case because it seems that not all children seem to have the same past. On the contrary, the picture depicts that children are playing due to which they can acquire several skills and capacities that can be used further on in their lives as an adult (Matthews and Mullin, 2018). It is through this that development can take between the children for which there can be new skills that are learned. Being in the forest around various children from different cultural backgrounds has allowed them to take out the concept of racism hence creating a better life for them. It has also allowed the children to clear out that being out in the open and discovering new things consents them for further growth. The ground that is present is rough and there are both dead as well as green grass that is present but the children do have shoes hence allowing children to understand that they need to be prepared before going outside. This helps children to develop the concept of readiness before taking up any activity.
Using the Social Semiotics approach the image can be further explored as it is through this that there can be a better understanding of it in detail. It is through this image that children who are physically active and allowed to explore are happy. This is a signified area of the image which is being looked at because it is through this that the Social Semiotic Theory of Representation is formed. This theory shows that globalised influences can also be targeted and, in the image, the area of culturalism comes into play (Kress, 2015). It can be seen that an African-American child is present amongst the white children and there is not any sort of discrimination that is occurring. All of them seem to be playing joyfully. Here the Aristotelian conception of childhood comes to play as it argues that only children alone cannot manage to become effective adults. This counters the point made by Matthews and Mullin (2018) as it is through this conception that parents play an important role to develop a child. The concept of maturity comes into play here as it is through this that children can become effective in the future and make adequate decisions (Kirby 2008). Hence, in the image, there should have been a parent present because they would have helped the children to be out of danger.
The second image is of children who have been neglected or have been facing some sort of violence. This impacts a whole lifetime for the children and can leave a long-lasting impression upon them. The impact of such violence can be that there can be a nervous system development impairment. This directly leads to another impact which is looking at opportunities that cannot be achieved by such children. One such impairment occurs, then it can cause a child not to focus on their studies hence causing their adult lives to be impacted as well.
Children are conceived to be future human capital and what they are currently facing could later cause issues to arise. If a child is feeling threatened and is going through violence that it is not known what type of adult they will become in the future. Author Qvortrup, (1994) has mentioned that children are now being viewed as ‘human being’ as they are the ones that will take over the economy and run various aspects inside of it. The picture has shown that the mental stress of the child is being hurt due to which it is highly likely in the future that there would be negative behaviour that would be expected from the child. This can mess with the psychological behaviour of the child. On the other hand, a website known as open democracy has shown that a child is more than a future aspect and should not be treated as one. It is due to this that there has been a sense of burden that has been created on children due to which the level of stress that they have also risen (Moss, 2019). Children should be able to develop at their own time and also the image of a child should be looked at differently. Hence, it can be seen that creating difficult situations for children at a young age, as depicted in the picture can cause there to be a further rise of issues to occur.
Another key finding that can be taken from the image is that Feminist post-structuralism is occurring in it. There is a girl child that is being harmed and in many countries around the world, it seems that a girl child is not considered to be good as a boy. This representation has shown that acting in a certain manner toward a girl is being done negatively as one can denote that the left eye of the child seems to be bruised and a fist has been made by the shadow figure. The concept of gendered subjectivity has been thoroughly shown as a girl child has been represented as the one that is facing violence (Davis and Bank, 1995).
The below discussion exaggerates the further consequences of child violence.
Author Garlen, (2019) has also expressed their concerns as it has shown that there are even social injustices that occur to children. The work has shown that childhood innocence is a necessary concept to be looked at because social effects such as culture, psychological development, and even religious doctrines can cause issues for the children (Chouliaraki, 2006).
Lawson, Piel, and Simon (2020) mentioned that physical abuse with children can cause brain dysfunction and in the worst case, death may occur. It is estimated that nearly 1 billion children between 2 and 17 years of age experience physical and sexual violence. Sadly, perpetrators are parents, caregivers, relatives, and other peers (The World Health Organisation, 2021). Abuse and neglect may cause many irremediable serious health problems that could adversely impact the development of child. These could include abnormalities in the central nervous system, physical defects, poor mental growth & cognitive retardation, and engraving speech issues (Conrad-Hiebner & Byram, 2020).
There are two other consequences as well that could be related to the second representation about child abuse and violence. These are cognitive and psychosocial consequences.
The cognitive and language issues have been noticed in abused kids in the research conducted by Moss (2019). This can also be associated with intellectual development, especially the verbal intelligence and low cognitive functioning in the majority of physically abused children. Conrad-Hiebner and Byram (2020) also noted that poor academic performance is another consequence of the bodily abuse. The child abuse can impact the brain development of a kid causing him/her difficulties with language and speech. Victims may have learning disorders or regression of developments. Such kids often have trust issues and they have difficulties in maintaining close relationships and communication with their peers. Sometimes they may get anxious, clingy, and aggressive because of the long-lasting impact of physical abuse.
James and James (2004) and Lawson, Piel, and Simon (2020) both mentioned that child abuse and violence often result in dire consequences such as diarrhea, malnutrition, and dehydration. This may further cause developmental delays, poor emotional stability, social skills, and attention deficits. Poorly treated children in the society are at a very high risk of low self-esteem and can be detrimental for the early stages of childhood.
The image can also be associated with child labour and exploitation. A different look on this topic has been shown Trinh (2020). The authors highlighted that nearly one in ten children is indulged in child labour either forcibly or through child trafficking. Ralph (2019) mentioned that child labour occurs due to poverty, joblessness of family members, and sudden illness of parents or caregivers. However, the consequences are quite concerning. This can lead to severe bodily and mental damages or even death. In developing countries, it can result in economic or sexual exploitation. It could cut or restrict their fundamental rights and keep them away from their schools or education. Child labour is a huge area of discomfort that children have to face which is considered to be a violent act because a child is put in such a condition that they should not be put in. This can cause mental stress to increase in children which will cause trauma later on in the child's life (Conrad-Hiebner and Byram, 2020).
From the analysis of both the images, it can be said that there is more than what meets the eye as by using various concepts from different authors there was a critical evaluation done. It can be seen that children are not easy to understand but they are entitled to a happy childhood so that in the future, when they become adults, they will have a better understanding of life and how to take on various issues and challenges. Both of these are necessary to be confronted from a parent's point of view as the safety of children is a major concern for parents as they do not want to hurt their children.
There are different relationships that a child has to go through and it is important to understand why such relationships are necessary because they are the ones that help to form the character, personality and even the psychological level of children. Both of the pictures have shown that the children present in them have a different type of relationship with their guardians. In the first image, it is seen that all of the children are happy hence showing that a healthy relationship is present between the photographer and children. Also, kids are also having a positive and healthy relationship with one another. On the other hand, the second image shows that the child is crying and has even faced violence which denotes that an unhealthy relationship is present. It should be understood here that when children grow up it is through these relationships that they will be able to form further relationships. If a child does not know how to do this or is in an unhealthy relationship then it is most likely that they will not know how to talk to people effectively or even work in large groups (Bruer, 1999). This is where the concept of emotional learning comes into play and it seems that schools around the world have started to adopt such a practice. Emotional learning programmes help children to further understand how to socialise with other people and get along with them irrespective of the issues that they might be facing at home. This is an important area to be considered as it is through this that there can be better management of the psychological level of children for a better future to be created for them (Bierman & Motamedi, 2015).
It can be concluded that children can be regarded as pure and ineffective of the various social issues that surround them. All children should be given a better childhood for them to enjoy it. Children should not be thought of as future creators as it only creates a burden upon them because educating children solely for the reason so that they can be financially stable in the future is not the right thing to do (Robinson, 2019). Children should be free of all mental stress or any type of stress as these are considered to be the golden years for a child hence showing that there would be better attainment of happiness if such is done (Dahlberg et al (2007). The argument has also been stated that if children are asked about their childhood then it can help to shape how further life is unfolded (James and James, 2004, p. 37).
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