Innocence, Knowledge and the Construction of Childhood provides a critical examination of the way we regulate children’s access to certain knowledge and explores how this regulation contributes to the construction of childhood, to children’s vulnerability and to the constitution of the ‘good’ future citizen in developed countries.

Through this controversial analysis, Kerry H. Robinson critically engages with the relationships between childhood, sexuality, innocence, moral panic, censorship and notions of citizenship. This book highlights how the strict regulation of children’s knowledge, often in the name of protection or in the child’s best interest, can ironically, increase children’s prejudice around difference, increase their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse, and undermine their abilities to become competent adolescents and adults. Within her work Robinson draws upon empirical research to:

  • provide an overview of the regulation and governance of children’s access to ‘difficult knowledge’, particularly knowledge of sexuality
  • explore and develop Foucault’s work on the relationship between childhood and sexuality
  • identify the impact of these discourses on adults’ understanding of childhood, and the tension that exists between their own perceptions of sexual knowledge, and the perceptions of children
  • reconceptualise children’s education around sexuality.

Innocence, Knowledge and the Construction of Childhood is essential reading for both undergraduate and postgraduate students undertaking courses in education, particularly with a focus on early childhood or primary teaching, as well as in other disciplines such as sociology, gender and sexuality studies, and cultural studies.

chapter Chapter 2|21 pages

Chapter 2 Difficult knowledge and subjugated knowledge

Adult/child relations and the regulation of citizenship

chapter Chapter 3|22 pages

Chapter 3 Childhood innocence, moral panic and censorship

Constructing the vulnerable child

chapter Chapter 4|23 pages

Chapter 4 Schooling the vulnerable child

Power/knowledge and the regulation of the adult normative citizen-subject

chapter Chapter 7|13 pages

Chapter 7 Critical conversations

Building a culture of sexual ethics early in life