Childhood construction is a vital aspect in determining child intervention within the child protection system. Parents possess a natural responsibility to intervene in their children’s lives. Childhood is recognized as an important status by the religious and secular world. For example, throughout the ages, religious teachings have encouraged parents to protect their children from any kind of harm (Shonkof and Meisels 68).
The need that adults posses of intervening in the lives of their children has shaped the way adults understand and construct childhood. There are many reasons why parents intervene in their children’s lives.
First, they view childhood as a stage in life that is defined by helplessness and vulnerability, hence making it necessary for them to offer protection to children (Shonkof and Meisels 70). Secondly, they view children as human beings who should enjoy their full human rights.
Thirdly, they believe that investing in children by protecting them is investing in the success of the future society (Shonkof and Meisels 71).
Many child interventions are determined by the construction of childhood as a vulnerable stage in human development that requires adult security. Ineffective construction of childhood promotes the idea that children as less knowledgeable and not deserving of power to make decisions.
The perspective of adults and the perspective of young people lead to different childhood constructions. However, the understanding of childhood in both cases determines child intervention within the child protection system. For example, young people consider abuse as the use of power by adults to control the behaviour of children and young people (Mason and Falloon 9).
As an intervention strategy, young people consider negotiation as an effective method of preventing child abuse. However, this may be ineffective because children consider the power to disclose cases of abuse as their right.
In addition, they claim that it enables them to handle such situations appropriately (Mason and Falloon 9). Interventions based on the perspective of young people may be ineffective because young people may decide to conceal information regarding cases of abuse. Reasons for information concealment include intimidation and fear of harm by abusers.
Research and literature on child abuse is mainly focused on the perspectives of adults. Children are considered as not being knowledgeable and as such, their opinions are of little or no help in formulating intervention programs (Mason and Falloon 12). This assumption has led to the marginalization of children as potential contributors in child intervention policies.
The perspective has labeled child abuse as a social problem that should be solved by those in power and has contributed in aggravating the problem. Abusers are considered the abused, and the abused are considered the abusers (Mason and Falloon 9).
It is important to take children’s opinions and perspectives into consideration. For example, a study by Parton et al (1997) found out that children’s opinions are only used to supplement adult opinions in child abuse cases. Ignoring the opinions of children has led to poor intervention programs.
There is a distinct difference between children’s and adults’ perspectives of abuse. In order to provide effective intervention, it is important to consider children’s definition of abuse. Children define abuse as the subjection to adult power and control, emotional hurt, being looked down upon and being denied a chance to voice their opinions (Bagnato 46).
Children’s perspective is different from the adults’ perspective, which considers children as less knowledgeable and unable to determine what is good for themselves. This results in ineffective child intervention efforts.
Adults should allow children to participate in discussions, give them freedom to choose what they want and take time to explain the consequences of the decisions that they make on their behalf (Bagnato 48). In addition, the views of children should be prioritized in interventions, and decisions should be made with the interests of the child as priority.
A rights based approach constructs children as human beings who have rights that should be respected (Brambring et al 82). In addition, it considers children as important contributors to society and as investments that are the foundation of the future. The 1994 Geneva Declaration and the 1959 United Nations Declaration were some of the first laws that offered child intervention, although in an inadequate way (Brambring et al 85).
They constructed children as dependent on adults because they are weak. They clearly stipulated the value of children to society, and hence the need to protect them. The first law that applied the rights based approach was the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The treaty comprises 54 articles that give children various rights. These rights include social, economic, political and cultural rights (Shonkof and Meisels 98). For example, Article 12 gives children the right to be listened to and the right to be involved in any decision making process that affects them (Brambring et al 89).
This leads to participation, a concept that recognizes children as part of the society, and as persons with rights that should be respected. The participation concept constructs children as human beings with rights and responsibilities. This perspective delegates certain responsibilities to children and other responsibilities to adults in order to strike a balance (James et al 52).
The rights based approach encourages children to participate in decision making through expressing their views and opinions. In most cases, adults make the final decision in cases that involve child intervention. However, these decisions should include the views and opinions of children. The participation approach has many benefits that make it an efficient approach to child intervention.
It helps children protect themselves because by voicing their opinions, they avoid situations that could amount to abuse (James et al 55). Children who are encouraged to express their views are able to challenge situations that abuse their rights. Therefore, children are less vulnerable to abuse when they are encouraged to express themselves (James 109). This approach is beneficial and effective.
However, it has many drawbacks. First, adults may take the rights of children lightly because many cultures place little value on the rights of children. Secondly, adults may refuse to give children power to participate in decision making because they believe that they know what is god for their children (James et al 58). Many adults feel that by giving children power, they encourage them to be disrespectful.
The idealistic perspective constructs childhood as a human development stage that is a period of innocence and carefree behaviours. This perspective stipulates that children should not be given adult responsibilities such as involvement in decision-making processes (James 122).
Proponents of the idealistic perspective discourage the participation of children in intervention decisions and as such, influence child intervention negatively. Failing to involve children in decision making discourages them from expressing their opinions on matters that are important to them.
This approach is ineffective because children’s understanding of abuse is different from adults’ understanding of abuse. As such, adults make decisions that do not align with the needs and rights of children.
Childhood construction is a critical aspect in determining child intervention in the child protection system. Parents possess a natural urge to intervene in their children’s lives. Childhood construction takes several approaches depending on how it is understood. Many child interventions are determined by the construction of children as vulnerable, weak and in need of protection.
Other constructions view children as valuable human beings who have rights and form the foundation for the future. In order to provide effective intervention, it is important to consider children’s definition of abuse.
Some adults consider children as less knowledgeable and unable to determine what is good for themselves. This results in ineffective child intervention efforts that fail to fully protect children from abuse.
To ensure that child interventions are effective, adults should allow children to participate in discussions concerning child intervention, give children freedom to choose what they want, and take time to explain the consequences of the decisions that they make on their behalf.
The participation concept constructs children as human beings with rights and responsibilities. This perspective delegates certain responsibilities to children and others to adults in order to create a balance.
The approach encourages children to participate in decision making through expressing their views and opinions. Efficient childhood construction views children as valuable human beings with rights and in need of protection.
Bagnato, Stephen. Authentic Assessment for Early Childhood Intervention: Best Practices. New York: Guilford Press, 2009. Print.
Brambring, Michael, Rauh, Hellgard, and Belmann, Andeas. Early Childhood Intervention: Theory, Evaluation and Practice. New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1996. Print.
James, Allison and James, Adrian. Constructing Childhood: Theory, Policy and Social Practice. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Print.
James, Allison. Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood. New York: Routledge, 1997. Print.
Mason, Jan and Falloon, Jan. A Children’s Perspective on Child Abuse. Children Australia, 24.3 (1999): 9-13. Print.
Shonkof, Jack, and Meisels, Samuel. Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention. London: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.