The flurry of interest around Childhood as a cultural construction, while originating in the 1930s with the work of scholars like Margaret Mead (1928, 1930) has fluoresced particularly since the work of Phillipe Ariès (1962). Such constructivist perspectives have focused on the separation of children's lives from those of adults, as well as the imposition of innocence (defined as ignorance of the “real world”) onto the young via the concept of Childhood. Such a notion of innocence requires a complementary construct of monstrousness, of Bad Children who are, on the basis of their behavior, banished from the kingdom of Childhood (Conrad 1999; James and Jenks 1996). These young people either pose a danger to the ones who still manage to stay within the Good Child realm or, more comprehensively, threaten the entire construct of Childhood. As Allison James and Chris Jenks (1996) point out in their discussion of the public perceptions surrounding the 1993 murder of Jamie Bulger in Britain: 1
…the murder was not just disturbing but was, quite literally, unthinkable. Unthinkable, that is, because it occurred within the conceptual space of childhood which, prior to this breach, was conceived of—for the most part and for most children—as innocence enshrined. In essence, what the British public seemed to have to come to terms with in 1993
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Publication information: Book title: At Play in Belfast:Children's Folklore and Identities in Northern Ireland. Contributors: Donna M. Lanclos - Author. Publisher: Rutgers University Press. Place of publication: New Brunswick, NJ. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 149.
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