02:04am Tuesday 21 January 2020

Taboo around child suffering broken in conference

Dr Mary Clare Martin

With international speakers, “Pain, Illness, Trauma and Death in Childhood” aims to shed light on a field that has seen limited historical research despite being a frequent subject in the media. The conference will bring together historians, sociologists, and experts in Childhood and Youth Studies, to discuss these issues.

The key speaker, Dr Nelleke Bakker, is an expert who was employed by the Dutch government to research sexual abuse in Dutch juvenile care from 1945. Her paper, “Pain and trauma: the case of sexual abuse in Dutch juvenile care 1945-2010” discusses her findings and the changes in public reaction throughout this period. Others consider child death and bereavement throughout history to the present day, pauper children, and perceptions of childhood pain. Professor Joanna Bornat, of the Open University, and others will also be analysing the value of oral history archives as a resource for research in this area.

Dr Mary Clare Martin, Head of the university’s Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation, organised the conference with the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past and the London Network for the History of Children. She says: “These are difficult and painful issues for everyone, but they are of enormous contemporary relevance. There are still many taboos around this subject. It is vital that research enables us to improve our understanding of childhood pain, trauma and responses to death, suggesting new ways to engage with challenging issues, to protect children without disempowering them, and effective approaches to coping with suffering.”

The conference takes place at the university’s Greenwich Campus on 1 February. It is free and open to all; please e-mail playandrecreation@gre.ac.uk to book a place. For more information on the programme, please email m.c.h.martin@gre.ac.uk

Story by Public Relations

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