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By Phil Scraton

Reading debates bearing on kids and teenagers, this article discusses the politics of early life , targeting subject matters similar to: the relations; schooling and education; psychological wellbeing and fitness; crime and justice; and sexuality.

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Further, it was claimed that they tore down ceiling tiles, and ‘ransacked classrooms’. The Daily Mirror (23 February 1982) also carried the story: ‘Mini Mobsters School Terror’. The Daily Mail (23 February 1982) repeated the allegations but located the ‘orgy of violence and destruction’ within the context of ‘provocation by left-wing extremists’. A ‘primary definer’, City Councillor Michael Storey was quoted extensively as claiming that ‘militant groups’ had leafleted the children in ‘a deliberate attempt to stir up hatred’ (Daily Mail, 23 February 1982).

Consequently children are treated as property and the custodianship of the property is determined by professional adjudication. Whether it is the interests of children or the priorities of the state which are negotiated during such interventions remains a fundamental issue for debate. Childhood and Gender Relations: The Limitations and the Potential of Feminist Analyses Thus far the theoretical analyses outlined tend to juxtapose the constructions of adulthood and childhood as if they are respectively homogenous and unified as structural categories.

Thus, to apply this construction universally, uncritically and unconditionally in all of its institutional forms is problematic in that it implies that children are not members—at least, not full members—of society. Indeed, children are reduced to the status of potential citizens: ‘human becomings’ as distinct from ‘human beings’ (Qvortrup, 1994:4). This form of dependency-grounded, child-adult relation is consistent with Simone de Beauvoir’s argument concerning the subject-object relationship as the basis of women’s experience of ‘otherness’: ‘She [woman] is defined and differentiated with reference to man, not he with reference to her… He is the Subject, He is the Absolute… She is the Other’ (De Beauvoir, in Scraton, 1990: 12) De Beauvoir’s critical commentary on gender relations within patriarchy similarly can be applied to an analysis of the adult-child relation.

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