The social construction of childhood has entirely changed over time due to the outcome of political, social and cultural battles between groups with distinct ideas about the best way to care for children. The social construction of childhood has evolved over time with the child being seen as someone who is innocent, helpless, a consumer, a worker alongside other household employee, a danger to society and it is a construction that shifts over time (Prout, 2010). Childhood can be described as the early stage of all human life in all societies and cultures. Not all people in the world have the same idea of childhood which proves that childhood is neither global nor natural (Rea, 2008; Basu, 2003 & Ali Norozi and Moen, 2016; Mhic Mhathu?na and Taylor, 2012:41).
According to James & James (2012:122), social construction is a theoretical view that investigates how reality collaborated in everyday life through community’s communications and sets of discourses. Kehily (2013) affirms that this ambience within which this discourse occurs positions the child not yet as an adult but as one who is in the process of developing into personhood. This social construction of childhood signifies that childhood is not a biological process. Instead, it is the society which agrees when a child is a child and when a child becomes an adult; for that reason, the concept of childhood cannot be separated as it is entangled with the societal factors (Ali Norozi and Moen, 2016; Mhic Mhathu?na and Taylor, 2012). Thus, to consider childhood as a social constructionist standpoint is to explore the implication which individual attribute to childhood within a cultural perspective.
From the historical point of view, Arie?s and Baldick (1996) have affirmed that the concept of ‘childhood’ did not occur before the seventeenth century; thus children were seen as small adults with the same skills, privileges and obligations.
From a cultural standpoint, Mhic Mhathu?na and Taylor (2012:40-42) opine that childhood varies from society to society and its context based on diversity, the belief of the people and their culture.
However, despite the broad understanding on the above of what people mean by childhood and the variegated approaches to childhood across times, states, and nations, there is a significant variation in what people, in different cultures, think about the place of children in society, regarding what children should and shouldn’t be doing at particular times as well as regarding how children must be socialised, and at what particular stage they should be viewed as adults. As a result, sociologists articulate that the concept of childhood should be placed in a social context (Mhic Mhathu?na & Taylor, 2012:39).
Unlike psychologists and the work of Piaget in particular, who see childhood development as deficient (James and Prout, 1997), Ali Norozi and Moen (2016) believe that childhood is shaped by the political, economic and cultural conditions of society which impact on children’s developmental ways. This signifies that childhood possesses a certain degree which is established and defined by the people.
Child work is a reality of life for children in many countries, and it should be a concern for everyone to participate in the banning of child work. Child work is not a new issue because it has been existent in every part of the world since ancient periods. It appeared as a concern during the industrial revolution when children were made to work in dangerous conditions for up to 12 hours a day(ILO,2013). In the1860s, 50% of children in Ireland between the age of five and fifteen years were employed. In 1919, the world staged a concern of child work and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) implemented standards to eradicate it. During the 20th Century, some legally binding agreements and international conventions were made, but despite these, child work continues to till this day (Rea, 2008:5). In many Third World countries experiencing economic hardships, children are engaged in working in unsafe and unsuitable environments that influence their adolescence. Though there are individual charity organizations trying hard to reduce the rate of young children working in such countries in an environment with no access to toilet and drinking amenities (ILO, 2013), there is a need to ban child work because every child deserves a better education. Child labour is a difficult problem that requires an inclusive solution. The most significant result is to provide children with their right to be educated and to be secured.