September 1999

No 156

University of Leicester - Department of Sociology:

Conference on Wednesday 8 September at the New Building, University of Leicester

Children in the Nineties face greater pressures than ever, a leading academic at the University of Leicester claims.

The University has organised a national conference examining some of the key issues surrounding childhood, including child prostitution and early motherhood.

Dr Jane Pilcher, Lecturer at the University of Leicester Department of Sociology, said: "In the 1990s, anxiety about the 'condition of contemporary childhood' has co-existed alongside concerns to recognise and extend children's pro-active rights, of self-determination and participation.

"The interplay between these two currents of concern has given rise to new social policies and social practices which address children in contrasting and, often, contradictory ways. It is these shifts in the boundaries marking childhood from adulthood that the conference seeks to explore."

Dr Pilcher said: "Children of the Nineties face contradictory pressures. On the one hand, there are pressures to envelope them more tightly within childhood, with controls like truancy watch schemes and parenting orders.

"Yet, on the other hand, there are tendencies to treat children in a more 'adult-like' way, for example under the criminal law, and also via the lowering of the age of consent for homosexuality.

"With these contradictory pressures in society, we aim to explore how it affects a child's experience of childhood."

Dr Pilcher said the conference was extremely timely and topical: "Adults nowadays are more concerned about what it is to be a child and what the experiences of childhood are.

"They are concerned that children are cared for properly and safely now that more and more parents are going to work. They are also concerned about children's increased access to aspects of adult world - particularly violence and sexuality.

"Adults are worried about children's access to 'undesirable material', whether via 'video nasties' or the Internet. Often, children are more computer literate than their parents and this is a growing cause of concern.

"There are therefore a number of reasons why the condition of childhood in the Nineties is of greater concern than before."

Dr Pilcher said speakers at the conference were engaged in research that would shape future policy in diverse areas, including after school care, children as criminals, young mothers, and children and sexuality.

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information contact Dr Jane Pilcher or Dr Chris Pole, Department of Sociology, University of Leicester, Telephone: 0116 252 2731 (Jane Pilcher) or 0116 252 2724 (Chris Pole). Email: jlp3@leicester.ac.uk (Jane Pilcher) or cjp21@leicester.ac.uk (Chris Pole) Messages can also be left with the University Press Office: 0116 252 3335/ 0411 927821, Email: pressoffice@le.ac.uk.

Conference Programme:


Venue: New Building, University of Leicester , Seminar Room 324/322

Wednesday 8 September 1999

The conference runs from 10am - 5pm with breaks at 11.30-12noon, 12.45-1.45 and 2.45-3.05 when interviews can take place. While the conference is taking place, all messages should go to the Press Office: 0116 252 3335/2676

SPEAKERS (in alphabetical order):

John Barker and Fiona Smith (Brunel University): Adult Spaces/Children's Places: Geographies of Out of School Care.

Barry Goldson (University of Liverpool): 'Lawless' Children, 'Childless' Law.

Mark Priestley (University of Leeds): In and Out of Childhood: Disabled Children in Adult Worlds.

Alison Rolfe (University of Warwick): 'You Have To Grow Up When You've Got a Kid': Early Motherhood as a Rite of Passage.

Roger Smith (The Children's Society): Order and Disorder: Contradictions of Childhood.

Sara Swann (Barnardos): Child Prostitution or Child Abuse?

Sarah Thomson (Keele University): Pupils' Playgrounds or Adults' Territory?

Guest speaker: Allison James (Hull University): Changing Childhood, Changing Children?

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Last updated: 08 September 1999 14:36
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