Anxieties over children's safety or teenage propensities towards violence and sex, combined with cases such as James Bulger in the UK and the Columbine school shootings in the US, precipitate moral panics in a large swathe of society. Geographies of Young People traces the changing scientific and societal notions of what it is to be a young person, and argues that there is a need to rethink how we view childhood spaces, child development and the politics of growing up. The book challenges popular myths that evoke general notions of childhood as a natural stage in the development towards adulthood. Alternative, contemporary psychoanalytic and feminist theories provide less structured perspectives, which value the embodiment and local embeddedness of young people. Enduring throughout is the conviction that a focus of children's geography and space is as important as history, because they articulate how places, institutions and mechanistic notions of justice teach young people how to behave and why young people resist this kind of disciplining. The latter part of the book considers children's rights and suggests the need for a more nuanced and contextualized account of justice.
This book brings coherency to the growing field of children's geographies by arguing that although most of it does not prescribe solutions to the moral assault against young people, it nonetheless offers appropriate insights into difference and diversity, and how young people are constructed.
Stuart C. Aitken is Professor of Geography, at San Diego State University.