STRENGTHENING INFANTS AND CHILDREN: SOUTH AFRICAN PERSPECTIVES

  • Linda M Richter Child, Youth and Family Development Human Sciences Research Council Private Bag X07 DALBRIDGE 4014

Abstract

“Is there anything useful to be said, in a post-modern context, about INFANTS, INFANCY and, perhaps least of all, CULTURE? We all seem to agree that there is no “universal” child to be studied and that children can only be understood in their social, temporal, and material localities. Further, as children have become constructed in the arena of identity politics as a minority group with rights, many of which are unfulfilled, we're bound to recognise that children, like other groups, are not uniform or homogenous. Rather, in the words of Allison James and her colleagues, children are “fractured and faceted in internal diversity” (James, Jenks & Prout, 1998). But such relativism is less troublesome when we talk about children, than when we talk about infants. With regard to infants, it is very difficult not to adopt a variant of universalism in relation to at least some aspects of infancy. About infants, many of us find ourselves in sympathy with Robert LeVine's view that “child-rearing practices … can vary culturally only within limits established in the distant evolutionary past without inflicting developmental damage on the child” (1977; p. 16).

Southern African Jnl Child and Adolescent Mental Health Vol.14(2) 2002: 128-134
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eISSN: 1728-0591
print ISSN: 1728-0583