Essay on Childhood: Factors That Bring An End To Childhood
When we look back on our childhood, what are the images that come to mind? A carefree life, the playground, loads of attention from parents and relatives, and of course, school.
Childhood is referred to as the golden time of our lives. This is the time we associate, at a later stage of course, with unadulterated happiness, no responsibilities, and endless possibilities stretching ahead of us. In this essay on childhood, let us explore this phenomenon from different perspectives.
What is Childhood?
Quantitatively speaking, childhood is described as the period from birth to adolescence. Surprisingly enough, childhood as a concept is relatively new; it emerged only during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Prior to that, they were considered incomplete adults. Qualitatively speaking, childhood is the time when the child enjoys innocence and is at play.
Since this concept of innocence is highly relative, the terms childhood spans different time periods in different cultures. In certain Islamic laws, for instance, the age of 12 among girls is considered the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. In most countries across the world, the age of 16 is considered the end of childhood, and the beginning of the young adult period.
End to Childhood
There are many factors that bring an end to childhood much before the actual onset of adulthood. It must be remembered that since childhood is a highly relative and subjective concept, all theories related to it are also subjective. Here, we have presented some factors that are almost universally considered inappropriate to be experienced at a tender age.
The average life expectancy of a human across the globe is around 80 years. This figure varies a bit depending on the region and is significantly different in certain exceptions. In any case, the death of a child, or of an individual below 18 years of age is considered unnatural.
Child mortality, although much lower today than it was even in the last century, is still a prevailing phenomenon in certain parts of the world, especially in the underdeveloped and developing nations. Death before the age of 13 or 14, or the period of adolescence, is thus one of the leading causes to put an end to childhood.
As horrific as it may sound, child marriage is a pretty common practice in many parts of the world, especially in the underdeveloped and developing nations. Children are married off for many reasons- such as financial instability, the lure of a bride price, protection from rape and molestation, and protection against probable promiscuity or bringing dishonor to the family, among others.
Once married, the child is initiated into all aspects of a married life, including intercourse and childbearing thus effectively putting an end to all aspects of childhood.
This is again one of the commonest causes of childhood coming to an end. Pre-teen pregnancies, though comparatively rarer because of biological reasons, is pretty common, especially in areas experiencing strife or with impoverished and uneducated populations. Again, this is directly related to the mortality rate since childhood pregnancy often results in death, since the body is not prepared to undergo pregnancy.
This is again a problem seen in some severely underdeveloped nations. Malnutrition is one of the leading causes of death among children in certain parts of the world. Lack of food leads to death, and the hunt for food forces children to embark in numerous activities that are inappropriate for a child. This is closely related to one of the principal factors that put an end to childhood- poverty.
Poverty forces many children out of their homes, taking up full-time occupations to support their families. A great number of children in underdeveloped and developed nations such as India and Bangladesh are employed as child workers, even though laws are there to prevent this occurrence.
Lack of money and food at home causes parents to take their children out of school and to the fields or factories in order to provide for their families. Many children are also forced into prostitution or sold as slaves.
If we look at the data carefully, we will see that the death of innocence and end to childhood comes earliest among children in poverty-stricken conditions. Of course, some other factors are also there, such as religion and ethnicity, but the role they play is more concentrated in very select geographical regions.
The United Nations spend billions of dollars each year to improve the conditions of the children in these regions, but betterment is still a long way.