HBC has noted a wide range of definitions of childhood. There have also been much discussion of developmental stages. There appear to be differences between genders as to the age children enter the different developmental phases. Not only are there various definitions, but these definitions have changed over time. The term teenager as a distince development phase, for example, is a very modern notion. These varying concepts of childhood are clearly mirroed in dress styles. There are also differences between cultures and countries as well as differences between families as to how children are viewed and treated. The definitions and age ranges for childood and adolecence is obviously important as HBC focuses on childhood and adolecenct clothing. In this regard, we have only begun to collect information on this important topic.
HBC has noted a wide range of definitions of childhood. There have also been much discussion of developmental stages and how to define those stages. Biological anthropologist, specializing in human growth and development Barry A. Bogin takes an integrated biocultural
approach to human life history. He postulates four juvenile life stages: infancy, childhood, juvenile, adolescent, and adult. Interestingly, Bogin believes that the childhood and adolescent stages
are unique to humans, not even our closest primate cousins have the
biological, behavioral and cognitive characteristics that define human
childhood and adolescence. [Barry A. Bogin, Patterns of Human Growth, 2nd edition (Cambridge U. Press, 1999).]
The nature of adolescene was been hotly debated by scholars in the 20th century and many of those issues remain unresolved. One of the earliest works on adolesence is G. Stanley Hall's thesis that adolescence is a time of "storm and stress". This thesis was challenged by Margaret Mead in her classic, ground breaking study--Coming of Age in Samoa. Other contemporary works from that era (roughly 1930s-50s) from the so-called "culture and personality school" of psychology and anthropology, which generally sought to overthrow what its practictioners viewed as a reductive focus on individual psychoses and biology. Freeman provided a sociobiological reduction criticism of Meade. For a discussion of the Mead/Freeman debate see James E Côté, Adolescent Storm and Stress an insightful evaluation of the Mead-Freeman controversy. Some perhaps better critiques of Mead include Walton's Fair Sex, Savage Dreams or Confronting the Margaret Mead Legacy: Scholarship, Empire, and the South Pacific, edited by Lenora Foerstel and Angela Gilliam. Adolescence is commonly associated with the teen years. The actual ages involved, however, are much more complicated. Recent medical work has extended the age in physiological terms.
There appear to be differences between genders as to the age children enter the different developmental phases. Many reserchers now look on adolescene ending at about 26 years of age, at least for men. Young men continue to grow in height until about 25 years of age, although the rate of growth is very slow after 18 years or so. Young women tend to stop physical growth at about 18 years, and they tend to reach full adult levels of reproductive maturity at that time as well, e.g., adult frequency of ovulations, full size of the birth canal. So, all the jokes about boys being adolescents for longer than girls has a biological basis. Many cultures recognize this basis and have elaborate "coming of age" rituals that culminate at about age 18 years for girls and at age 25-35 for boys. [Bogin, Patterns of Human Growth]
Not only are there various definitions of childhood, but these definitions have changed over time. There are social factors affecting chronological trends, such as the age at which children enter the work force. There are also phsiological changes brought on by changing dietary trends. The term teenager as a distince development phase, for example, is a very modern notion.
These varying concepts of childhood are clearly mirroed in dress styles.
There are also differences between cultures and countries as well as differences between families as to how children are viewed and treated.
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