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”Oh Yes I Can.”“Oh No You Can't”: Children and Parents' Understandings of Kids' Competence to Negotiate Public Space Safely

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Children's safety is an issue high on the public agenda in both the UK and North America. In particular, the “stranger‐danger” discourse plays an important part in constructing children as “vulnerable” and “at risk” in public space. This paper begins by exploring how adults define whether their children are competent to negotiate public space unsupervised and how they control and manage their children's use of space. It then goes on to consider children's own understandings of their ability to negotiate public space safely, exploring how they subvert restrictions placed on them by parents and how they define their parents' levels of competence to make decisions about their spatial ranges. In doing so the paper demonstrates the instability and contested meanings of the binary concepts —”adult” and “child.”
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield

Publication date: 1997-01-01

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