CHILHOOD IN HISTORY

By vaalbor
  • 228 BCE

    Imbalance in Gender

    Imbalance in Gender
    Children were thrown into rivers, flung into dung-heaps and cess trenches, “potted” in jars to starve to death, and exposed on every hill and roadside.

    Beyond this, the first-born was usually allowed to live,especially if it was a boy. Girls on the other hand were valued little.
    The result was a large imbalance of males over females, typical of the West until well into the Middle Ages, the killing of illegitimate children does not affect the sex ratio, since both sexes were generally killed.
  • 374

    A Change - Finally -

    A Change - Finally -
    It was not until the fourth century that a change was apparent. The law began to consider killing an infant murder only in 374 A.D. Yet even the opposition to infanticide by the Church Fathers often seemed to be based more on their concern for the parent’s soul than with the child’s life.
  • Period: 442 to 787

    Child Assylums

    After the Council of Vaison (442 A.D.), the finding of abandoned children was supposed to be announced in church, and by 787 A.D., Dateo of Milan founded the first asylum solely for abandoned infants
  • 1230

    Evil Beings

    Evil Beings
    The belief that infants were felt to be on the verge of turning into totally evil beings is one of the reasons why they were tied up, or swaddled, so long and so tightly.
    Angelicus says “And for tenderness the limbs of the child may easily and soon bow and bend and take diverse shapes. And therefore children’s members and limbs are bound with lystes [bandages], and other covenable bonds, that they be not crooked nor evil shapen..”
  • 1487

    Changelings

    Changelings
    The child in the past was so charged with projections that he was often in danger of being considered a changeling if he cried too much or was otherwise too demanding. Some church fathers declared that if a baby merely cried it was committing a sin. You can recognize changelings because they “always howl most piteously and even if four or five mothers are set on to suckle them, they never grow.”
  • Reversing roles with parents

    Reversing roles with parents
    In Rome, A plebeian woman of low position who had just given birth to a child, had permission to visit her mother who had been shut up in prison as a punishment, She was detected giving her mother sustenance from her own breasts. In consequence of this marvel the daughter’s pious affection was rewarded by the mother’s release and both were awarded maintenance for life; and the place where it occurred was consecrated to the Goddess concerned, a temple dedicated to Filial Affection.
  • "Child as Breast"

    "Child as Breast"
    The breasts of little infants were often kissed or sucked on by adults. Kissing, sucking, and squeezing the breast are but a few of the uses to which the “child as breast”. One receives the impression that the perfect child would be one who literally breast-feeds the parent, and the ancients would agree.
    Another instance of the “infant as mother” was the common belief that infants had milk in their breasts which had to be expelled.
  • Swaddling

    Swaddling
    Traditional swaddling is much the same in every country and age. It “consists in entirely depriving the child of the use of its limbs, by enveloping them in an endless length bandage". Swaddling was often so complicated it took up to two hours to dress an infant. swaddled infants are extremely passive, their hearts slow down, they cry less and they sleep far more.
  • Period: to

    "Wet" Nurses

    The average child of wealthy parents spent his earliest years in the home of a wet-nurse, returned home to the care of other servants, and was sent out to service, apprenticeship, or school by age seven, so that the amount of time parents of means actually spent raising their children was minimal.
  • Period: to

    Potty Practice

    The struggle between parent and child for control in infancy of urine and feces is an eighteenth-century invention.
    The urine and feces of infants were often examined in order to determine the inner state of the child.
    The bowels of children were thought to harbor matter which spoke to the adult world insolently,threateningly,with malice and insubordination. The fact that the child’s excrement looked and smelled unpleasant meant that the child himself was somewhere deep down badly disposed.
  • Using Masks to Scare

    Using Masks to Scare
    Children being frightened by masks caused the deepest repression. Infants are terrorized with masked figures when they merely cry, want food, or want to play. Chrysostom says “terrifying images deter children when they want food or play or anything else unseasonable”
  • Impediment to crawl

    Impediment to crawl
    The use of stool like devices were supposed to assist walking, but in fact were used to prevent crawling, which was considered animal-like.
    There are stools for children to stand in, in which they can turn around any way, when mothers or nurses see them in it, then they care no more for the child, let it alone, go about their own business, supposing the child to be well provided, not considering the pain the child is in.
  • "Toilet" Children

    "Toilet" Children
    The use of the child as a “toilet” for adult projections is behind the whole notion of original sin, and for eighteen hundred years adults were in general agreement that,as Richard Allestree puts it, “the new-born babe is full of the stains and pollution of sin, which it inherits from our first parents through our loins·
  • Child legal sale

    Child legal sale
    Child sale was legal in Babylonian times, and may have been quite common among many nations in antiquity, it is unclear how effective the law was. The church tried for centuries to stamp out child sale.
    Another abandonment practice was the use of children as political hostages and security for debts, which also went back to Babylonian times.
    The effects of these and other institutionalized abandonments by parents on the child have rarely been discussed.
  • Period: to

    Colonial Boston

    “accidents” happened to children a lot because little children were so often left alone.
    Examples:
    1. Mather’s daughter Nibby would have been burned to death but for “a person accidentally then passing by the window,” because there was no one there to hear her cries.
    2.“... and went out to visit a neighbor. When they returned the mother [went] to the bed, and not finding her youngest child after much search, she found it drowned in a well in her cellar"
  • Killing Nurses

    Killing Nurses
    Late in the nineteenth century the term village of “killing nurses” came to life. It was the place where mothers sent their infants to be done away with but these nurses will kill them “by exposing the child to cold air after a hot bath; feeding them something that caused convulsions in their stomachs and intestines; mixing gypsum in their milk, which literally plastered up their insides; suddenly stuffing them with food after not giving them anything to eat for two days.”
  • Castration

    Castration
    Signs of castration surrounded the child in antiquity.
    Even noble parents mutilated their sons to further their political advancement. Boys were also castrated as a “cure” for various diseases and Ambroise Pard complained how many unscrupulous “Gelders,” greedy to get children’s testicles for magical purposes, persuaded parents to let them castrate their children.
  • No masturbation

    No masturbation
    The campaign against the sexual use of children continued through the seventeenth century, but in the eighteenth century it took an entirely new twist: punishing the little boy or girl for touching its own genitals. As late as the fifteenth century Gerson complains how adults tell him they never heard that masturbation was sinful, and he instructs confessors to ask adults directly: “Friend, do you touch or do you rub your rod as children have the habit of doing?”
  • Scaring Childs

    Scaring Childs
    The number of ghost-like figures,along with hoards of other monsters and bogies used to frighten children through-out history is legion.
    In many villages of Europe, children were threatened by parents with the loup-garou (werewolf), the barbu (bearded man), or the rarnoneur (chimney sweep), or told they will be put in the basement to let the rats gnaw on them.
  • Horsewhipping

    Horsewhipping
    One can often catch the merging of beaten and beater with lack of guilt. An American father tells of horsewhipping his four-year-old boy for not being able to read something. The child is tied up naked in the cellar.
  • Substitutes had to be found

    Substitutes had to be found
    As beatings began to decrease, substitutes had to be found. For instance, shutting children up in the dark became quite popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Children were put in “dark closets, where they were sometimes forgotten for hours.”
    The adult used the child to restrain, rather than act out, his own sexual fantasies. In sexual abuse, as in physical abuse, the child was only an incidental victim, a measure of the part it played in the defense system of the adult.
  • Pelz-nickel

    Pelz-nickel
    Stacks of stick brooms, tied in the middle, and making a stiff brush at both ends would show up in shops before Christmas time. These were used to beat children; during the first week in December, adults would dress up in terrifying costumes and pretend to be a messenger of Christ, called the Pelz-nickel, who would punish children and tell them if they would get Christmas presents or not.
  • Corpses to scare

    Corpses to scare
    In the need to terrorize children, the use of corpses is involved.
    Classes used to be taken out of school to hangings, to inspect rotting corpses hanging there, while being told moral stories.
    Also parents would often take their children to hangings and then whip them when they returned home to make them remember what they had seen.
  • Nurses frighten children

    Nurses frighten children
    Fearful figures were also the favorites of nurses who wanted to keep children in bed while they went off at night.
    Nurses told children that a horrible Black Man was hidden in the room to catch them the moment they left their bed or made the slightest noise,
  • Infanticide

    Infanticide
    In the middle ages, in an attemp to “undo” motherhood the mother of the child in order to escape the punishment they imagine their own mothers will wreak upon them, used to kill their own children.
    Filicidal impulses are enormously widespread, with fantasies of stabbing, mutilation, abuse, decapitation, and strangulation were common in mothers. Infanticide of both legitimate and illegitimate children was a regular practice of antiquity.
  • "Double Bind”

     "Double Bind”
    In the past adult's showed many contradictory attitudes without any resolution. Sending conflicting signals because the child is loved and hated, rewarded and punished, bad and loving, all at once.
  • "Double Image"

    "Double Image"
    Projective and reversal reactions often occurred simultaneously in parents, producing an effect DeMause calls “double image”.The child was seen as both full of the adult’s projected desires, hostilities, and sexual thoughts, and at the same moment as a mother or father figure.
  • Bones in Buildings

    Bones in Buildings
    Thousands of bones of sacrificed children have been dug up by archeologists, often with inscriptions identifying the victims as first-born sons of noble families.
    Sealing children in walls, foundations of buildings, and bridges to strengthen the structure was also common.
  • Nowadays

    Nowadays
    Right now, childhood is considered as a precious time in which children should live free from fear, safe from violence and protected from abuse and exploitation.
    In the years since the Convention was adopted, the world has seen concrete results for children. Between the early 1990s and 2000, the average under-five mortality rate declined by 11 per cent.
  • Period: to

    Progress

    In a UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in May 2002 and pledged to accelerate progress on child development by promoting the best start and healthy lives; providing quality education; protecting against abuse, exploitation and violence; and combating HIV/AIDS.