Infancy and Childhood

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Infancy and Childhood

Infancy (bir’~l to age 2) and childhood (ages 3 to 12) are typically thought of as carefree years; however,children are among the  most powerless and vulnerable people in society. Historically, children were seen as the property of their parents, who could do  with them as they pleased (Tower, 1996). In fact, whether  an infant survives the first year of life depends on a wide variety of  parental factors, as a community health  scholar explains:

All infants are not created equal. Those born to teenage mothers or to mothers who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or take drugs  re at higher  risk for death in their first year. Those born in very rural areas or in inner cities are more likely to die as infants.  hose   born to black women are at twice the risk as those born to white women. Older mothers carry a high risk for conceiving an in with Down’s  with  Down’s syndrome, and Native American women carry a high risk for having a baby with’ a serious birth defect. Add to the mix   mother’s education;her economic, marital, and nutritional status; and whether she had adequate prenatal care, which all  play  into whether her infant will make it through  the first year of life, But surviving the first year is only one piece of  the equation.  quality of life is another. Infants who

survive the first year can have lives so compromised that their future is seriously limited …. We cannot always predict which  infants will survive, and we certainly cannot predict who will be happy. (Sch  eider, 1995:26)   Moreover, carly socialization plays   significant part in children’s experiences and their quality of life. Many are confronted with an array of problems their families  because of marital instability, an increase in the number of single-parent households, and the percentage of families in which both  rents are employed Ill time. These factors have heightened the need for high-quality, affordable child care for infants and young  children. However, many parents have few options regarding who will take care of their children while they work. These statistics  from the Children’s Defense Fund (2002) point out the perils of infancy and childhood:

Every day in the United States, lout of every 5 infants are born into poverty: over 3.000 children die from gunshot wounds every  ear, 7 million children are at home alone on a regular basis without adult supervision, and every 11 seconds a child is reported   bused or neglected. As these statistics show, the risk of death or pennant disability from accidents is a major concern in  childhood. In fact, two-thirds of all childhood deaths are caused by injuries. (TI,e other third are caused by cancers, birth defects,  tare disease, pneumonia, and HIV/AI DD.) Although many previous childhood tillers such as polio, measles, and diphtheria are   ow

controlled through immunizations and antibiotics, motor vehicle accidents have become a major source of injury and death for  infants and children. (As compared with all other racial-ethnic categories, Native American children have the highest rate of   motorr vehicle deaths.) The childhood motor vehicle fatality rate is higher in the South and Southwest, where more parents own  pickup trucks and allow children to ride in the truck bed (Schneider, J 995). Despite  laws and protective measures implemented to  protect infants and children, far too many lose their lives at an early age due to the abuse, neglect. or negligence