In early 2015 three children walked to school on their own in Auckland, New Zealand. Tragically, they were hit by a car when they crossed a busy road. Officials quickly blamed the parents for the accident and lack of protection. One police officer, for example, commented that it is “unacceptable” for young children to walk to school without adult supervision. While the injuries are unquestionably heartbreaking for the children, their families, and the driver, the discourse around this tragic event – for whom is it “acceptable” to walk independently or on a more general level what are appropriate activities for children in different environments – reveals broader questions about children’s place and their participation in society.
Children’s status in society regulates their participation in societal matters. The dominant news coverage around this tragic accident viewed children as an object in need of care and protection based on the assumption that children lack the...
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