The invention of childhood

Discuss the experiences of evacuees during World War 11 and see what jobs they, their households and their hosts experienced.

Brown ( 2000 ) believes the seeds of the Evacuation came from World War 1 when the bombardment of towns and metropoliss killed many civilians. By 1938, war looked inevitable. Thousands of lives would be put at hazard because of the power of the German air force. The states kids were the hereafter of the state and had to be protected from danger. The large metropoliss like London with big populations were seen as being at the greatest hazard of bombing so it was decided that all the parents of metropolis kids should be encouraged to evacuate kids to the countryside where they would be safer. Emptying involved traveling 1000s of kids, female parents with babes and instructors from their places and seting them into the places of aliens. It is debateable whether this was a good thought. This essay aims to see the experience of emptying on the host households, the parents of the kids but most significantly on the kids.

Harmonizing to Holman ( 1995 ) in September 1939, the Government started large- graduated table emptying of kids and immature female parents from metropoliss to the countryside. Planning had started every bit early as 1925. Inglis ( 1990 ) writes that the kids arrived at railroad Stationss transporting a bag with a gas mask, a bite for the journey and a few points of vesture. Each kid wore a label with his/her name written on it. She says many kids saw it as a great escapade and there was an air of exhilaration. Some were bewildered and resented being sent off. Children who travelled with their school friends and instructors had continuity in their lives but those going entirely reported feeling stray and scared.

Harmonizing to Richard Titmus in Inglis ( 1990 ) the female parents of the kids were pale and contending back cryings as they waved their kids off. They were torn between looking after their kids ‘s safety and seting lives at hazard. Government postings were designed to do them experience guilty if they kept the kids in the metropolis. It was the first clip many had been parted from their kids. Inglis ( 1990 p37 ) says ‘those parents who did allow their kids go… frequently felt about bereaved by the cruel but seemingly necessary separation ‘ . The wretchedness of being separated was made worse because parents had to do a agency tested part towards the kids ‘s support every bit good as support normal life costs. This put a load on poorer households. Parents were given one rail ticket per month to see kids. These visits besides upset the female parents because the found their kids dressed in apparels chosen by surrogate female parents because they were considered inadequately dressed for the state. ‘Parents resented being made to experience like paupers ‘ ( Inglis p55 ) . Some surrogate households had good but just subject and the kids were happier because the family was unagitated and orderly. Visiting female parents could experience covetous of the harmoniousness. Majorie Allen, an evacuee, is cited in Holman ( 1995 ) , stating immature female parents with really immature kids were billeted with households. This caused jobs for both adult females, seeking to cook and make rinsing in one kitchen. Sometimes they were expected to remain out of the house all twenty-four hours and had nil better to make than walk around the roads with immature kids. This frequently meant that the kids did non acquire proper repasts, chances to play or hold a quiet sleep. Opportunities for noisy drama were limited and the kids ‘s imaginativeness was poorer as a consequence. The female parents were bored and this was bad for the kids. One said it was hard to do permanent relationships with other female parents because you ne’er knew when you were traveling back place.

Host households had to be found for the Evacuees. After the bogus war of 1939 80 % of the evacuees returned home merely to return to the state a 2nd clip in 1940. Offering adjustment was voluntary at first but by the terminal of 1940 it was mandatory to take in an evacuee if you had a trim room. Cunningham ( 2006 ) says that some people welcomed the thought of giving kids from interior metropoliss the experience of life in the state and the kids thrived but Brown ( 2000 ) says that some people did non welcome the thought of taking in kids and claimed they were excessively sick or had no infinite. Hosts were paid a hebdomadal sum to feed the kids so some hosts did it for the excess money. Some surrogate female parents crammed excessively many kids into one room merely to acquire money.

Inglis ( 1990 ) says there was non much attempt put in to fit kids to households. Children were frequently paraded unit of ammunition and Foster parents picked one. Naturally the clean kids were picked foremost. Some siblings were split up. Often there were jobs associated by the deficiency of fiting kid to household. Religion was sometimes an issue. Children had been told by their parents to make as they were told which sometimes meant traveling to a different church or in the instance of Judaic kids eating non- kosher nutrient. There were studies of the really immature being placed with really old Foster parents who could non get by. Some surrogate female parents were ‘child haters ‘ harmonizing to Inglis. One evacuee claimed she had to shop, clean and expression after a 3 twelvemonth old. Holman ( 1995 ) says some kids suffered physically and emotionally at the separation from female parents and male parents and some kids were beaten and starved. One male child spent his yearss foraging for nutrient and as a consequence he did non travel to school. By the clip he was noticed by the constabulary he was so bony that he had to be hospitalised. Inglis reports that kids frequently returned home after a really short clip because they were unhappy. One went back to London after 6 months because she preferred the bombs to being in North Devon. Some nevertheless were off for 5 old ages.

Smith ( 1996 ) states that tonss of households who took in kids lived in big houses and the system highlighted the differences in the category system, ‘Evacuation frequently led to category tenseness as middle-class hosts and working category evacuees struggled to co-exist under one roof ‘ ( Smith 1996 p9 ) . Hosts were shocked by criterions of hygiene and behavior. They had non realised that people lived in such hapless conditions. Hendrick ( 1997 ) says that Angus Calder said the host households seemed to bury why they were taking in kids and accused them of being bed wetting agents, bad mannered and infested with bugs. Cunningham ( 2005 ) believes these jobs were marks of mental emphasis. Michael Aspel telling his ideas about being evacuated in Inglis ( 1990 ) says that ‘one of the most profound effects of the emptying was to convey to the state ‘s attending the flooring disparity in child care in Britain and the extremes of wealth and poorness that divided the state ‘ .

‘The predicament of the evacuees showed how of import the household was to emotional security ‘ ( Cunningham 2006 p202 ) . The jobs of the evacuees were followed up by John Bowlby with his research on the effects of maternal want. This led to a move off from dividing kids from their chief carer. Anna Freud was besides against separations and she suggested that the long separations were more straitening for kids than the bombardments. She studied immature kids who had lost at least one parent and noted that kids regressed to childish behaviors like pollex suction, bed-wetting and rocking. She believed evacuating kids had the same consequence. However, Josephine Barnes ‘ feelings are reported in Cunningham ( 2006 ) , she believes that traveling kids to the state benefited them because non merely did their wellness better but they learnt to be independent and got experience of how people in the state live.

Although there are studies of hapless intervention there are many happy narratives. Inglis ( 1990 ) writes about Mrs Ivy Moore who was evacuated to Dorset with her immature boy. She thought her note was like Eden. This experience was non usual but there are many studies of kids non desiring to return to the metropolis after the war. Michael Caine states that he was determined to make good in life so that he could populate in a large house like his Foster place. Some households took kids on vacations and taught them to read. There is small uncertainty that many host households did a good occupation. Some childless twosomes looked upon the evacuees as their ain. They were really disquieted to see kids returned to their parents. ‘Evacuation was a singular historical occurrence because it enabled the ‘haves to run into the ‘have nots ‘ straight ‘ Cunningham ( 2006 p 165 ) .

Inglis ( 1990 ) says that journalists following up the evacuees reported that the evacuated kids ne’er truly lost their fond regard to the household even though many preferable life in the state to inner metropolis slums. It seems that the kids did non bury that surrogate households were impermanent. Hendrick ( 1997 ) thinks that 1000s of kids did suffer and it has affected them all their life but 1000s merely remembered sort intervention and love.

Susan Isaacs carried out research at the terminal of the war and reported that evacuees missed the simple things in life like playing in the park even though they had estates of countryside to play in. They missed being allowed to do a muss and being teased by siblings. Some of the houses were really expansive. However, Inglis ( 1990 ) says kids frequently resented being sent off from place even if the host households were sort. Many were homesick. She tells the narrative of one of the kids who had been given a hair bow by her female parent and kept it in her pajama pocket. She went to kip stroking her face with it for comfort. One kid said her Foster female parent did non smell like her ain female parent and she did non like the odor. Susan Isaacs spoke to the female parent of one kid who had reportedly cried herself to kip every dark and ever looked ailment because she was so homesick.

However, many kids missed their Foster households when they went back place. Parents expected the kids to be happy when they returned place but some kids said they were happier in the state. Some kids said they felt claustrophobic because their houses were so little. Those who were dissatisfied felt guilty and ashamed of their feelings. Inglis says kids had to accommodate to new milieus and so readapt back. They had to ‘remodel their personalities in order to suit in with new milieus ‘ ( Inglis p 149 ) . This is difficult for immature kids. One evacuee states that she is a hoarder and blames this on the fact that she had to go forth all her cherished ownerships at place when she was hastily evacuated. Another says she still remembers the feelings of isolation during minutes of emphasis. This suggests that the effects of being separated have a permanent consequence even though many bad memories are repressed.

It seems there are many statements for and against the emptying programme but there is small uncertainty that it saved many immature lives. It did do a dislocation in the household and has been blamed for the addition in the figure of kids interrupting the jurisprudence between 1939-1941. This supports the theory that household dislocation is a major factor in juvenile offense. Tom Harrison, the MO Team Leader at the clip is quoted stating in Inglis ( 1990 p 46 ) that 94 % of parents reported that their kids were happy. Unfortunately that means that 6 % were non happy but there were alterations for the better that were brought approximately as a consequence of the Evacuation. Hendrick ( 1997 ) states that the emptying programme ‘revealed the hapless wellness and life conditions of interior metropolis kids. The Government could no longer acquire off with suggesting that kids were the duty of their parents… . The individual most of import effect of emptying was the centring of the household in all future policies for kids ‘s public assistance and the jobs associated with dividing kids from parents led to new societal policies being introduced ‘ Hendrick ( 1997 p 55 ) .


  • Brown, M. ( 2000 ) Evacuees, Evacuation in Wartime Brittain, Stroud: Sutton Publishing, pp63-113.
  • Cunningham, H. ( 2006 ) , The Invention of Childhood, BBC Books pp191-192, p202, p233.
  • Cunningham, . 2nd Ed. Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500, Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd, pp186-187.
  • Hendrick, H. ( 1997 ) , Children, childhood and English society 1880-1990, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp53-55.
  • Holman, B ( 1995 ) , A Very British Revolution: The Evacuation, Oxford: Lion Publishing, pp29-30.
  • Inglis, R. ( 1990 ) , The Children ‘s War, Evacuation 1939-1945, Fontans/Collind, pp
  • Smith, H. ( 1996 ) , Britain in the Second World War: A Social History, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp9-42.

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