“There Are Too Many Sad Things Here”: Children’s Exposure to Neighbourhood Violence

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Do children represent the neighbourhoods where they live? This was the
starting point of a research focused on the analysis of children’s lives in six
public housing neighbourhoods in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, Portugal.
Rooted in social ecology theoretical approaches and childhood studies,
which recognize children as social actors, the main goal was to achieve
a better understanding of children’s socialization processes considering
multi-problematic spaces, but focussed mainly on their involvement
in violence and delinquency. Between 2005 and 2009, a case study
based on ethnographic and child-centred research methods to explore
children’s personal accounts of their lives was conducted in the selected
neighbourhoods. Findings highlighted that most children complained
about living there, referencing how social and spatial segregation,
associated to high exposure to violence, affect them. Violence and crime
were labelled as the most prominent problems, and children’s exposure to
neighbourhood violence seldom occurs only once or just in one form. The
data demonstrated how ‘normalization’ of violence perceived by children
influenced their use of the neighbourhood’s places, reducing their sense of the seriousness and effects of violent acts. Violence, briefly discussed
from the children’s points of view, served to build their skills, structure their
present relations with peers and adults, and simultaneously helped and (re)
constructed a permanent social dissatisfaction reinforcing neighbourhood’s
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-70
Number of pages8
JournalChildhood Remixed Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventThe international Children and Childhoods Conference - University Campus Suffolk, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jul 2013 → …


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