Examine the reasons for changes in the position of children in the last 200 years.

Children were treated in a completely different way 200 years ago. Accoring to Phillipe Aries (1962), whose research was based on analysis of letters and other documents of that time in Medieval Europe, children were not seen as a different part of the society and were mostly treated like adults - they were wearing adult clothes, they were working in the same conditions with adults and their behaviour was similar to adults'.
The changes in the position of children began when the upper class started to send their children to schools in order to educate them. During the process of industrialisation, this tendency in the upper classes was developing, while children from lower classes were still treated like adults and didn't have any privilleges or special conditions - they were working side by side with adults. In the 19th century, a series of Labour Acts restricted children from work in factories and mines, as well as education of children was becoming more and more common - elementary state education was compulsory in many European countries.
Then the experts specialising in children in medicine, education and psychology started to develop, and since then, according to Aries, children were seen as different from adults. Children have their own needs and interests.
Stainton Rogers (2001) identified two images of children in the 20th century: 'the sinful and wicked child', whose behaviour is anti-social and, therefore, it should be controlled and disciplined; and 'the innocent child', who should be protected from the violence of the adult world. This 'welfare view' was supported by many social policies, such as the Children Act of 1989, where court is obliged to make decisions based on interests and benefits of children.
However, nowadays the position of children is changing as well. Neil Postman (1983) suggests that the childhood is disappearing because today children are not protected from the adult world and this is mostly because of mass media, which destroyes the boundaries between childhood and adulthood. Nick Lee (2001), objects that point view saying that childhood is not disappearing, but becoming more complex and ambiguous. Children are still dependent on their parents, but have their own opinions and views, which makes them independent to some extend.


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