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The Failed Century of the Child
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  • 23 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 0 pages

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 (ISBN-13: 9780511056529 | ISBN-10: 0511056524)

Between 1900 and 2000 an unprecedented American effort to use state regulation to guarantee health, opportunity, and security to the country's children failed to reach its goals. The achievements envisioned were enormously ambitious and reflected entrenched but self-contradictory values and Americans' inconsistent expectations of government. As such, a 'failed' century deserves a mixture of rebuke and cautious admiration. Starting with the young, American public policy transformed individuals into strings of measurable characteristics. People became statistics, and if society could just get the measurements right, social policy said, progress would be possible. But children proved hard to quantify. Policies based on optimistic faith in the powers of applied scientific truth revealed perils implicit in acceptance of poorly understood social science paradigms. Definitions changed, as psychology or sociological or statistical theory changed, and good intentions foundered, as experts fiercely challenged each other's conclusions and public policies sought to respond.

• A broad overview of an important topic that covers the twentieth century • Written in jargon-free, witty prose • Based on prodigious research

Contents

Part I. Children's Welfare: 1. Juvenile justice: from 'child saving' to 'public accountability'; 2. 'The Pontius Pilate' routine: government responses to child abuse; 3. 'Illusory promises': state aid to poor children; Part II. Children's Work: 4. 'Inducting into adulthood': state reactions to the labor of children and adolescents; Part III. Children's Education: 5. 'Laying down principles in the dark': the consequences of compulsory secondary education; 6. The return of the infant school: twentieth century preschool education; 7. Public education of disabled children: 'rewriting one of the saddest chapters'; Part IV. Children's Health: 8. 'Shaped up' by the state: government attempts to improve children's diets, exercise regimes, and physical fitness; 9. Mandatory medicine: twentieth century childhood immunization.

Reviews

' … simultaneously accessible and scholarly. The text is highly engaging … a wealth of information … an extremely useful compendium. This book is a natural for classroom use … The book is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate courses in history, child welfare, social policy, social work, and political science. It is also likely to be of interest to practitioners, policy makers, and academics in those same fields.' Youth and Policy

'… this exceptional book offers a remedy to what Sealander deplores as one of the recurring features of child policy: the absence of awareness of past experiences.' Labour/Le Travail

'This is a thoroughly researched and well-written book, both scholarly and entertaining.' History of Political Thought

'Sealander's The Failed Century of the Child is simultaneously accessible and scholarly. The text is highly engaging, free from the dryness of many academic tomes. … Sealander provides us with an extremely useful compendium. The book is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate courses in history, child welfare, social policy, social work, and political science. It is also likely to be of interest to practitioners, policy makers and academics in those same fields.' Youth and Policy

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