Children and the Geography of Violence : Why Space and Place Matter book cover
1st Edition

Children and the Geography of Violence
Why Space and Place Matter

ISBN 9781138040878
Published September 18, 2017 by Routledge
178 Pages

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Book Description

Violence sabotages development, both children’s development and the development of the communities and neighbourhoods they rely on. There is abundant evidence of the deep and lasting harm that can be done. Violence breaks bodies and minds and exerts an insidious influence at every level. The effects are immediate but can also linger, damaging health, trust and capability, traveling through generations. This book argues that it is impossible to understand the violence in young children’s lives or to respond to it adequately without considering how embedded it is within their physical surroundings. The relations of power that are the context for violence within households, within communities and beyond are often expressed through control over space and the material conditions of life.

This book links the abstract concept of structural violence to the stark reality of personal harm, drawing on evidence from a range of disciplines and from countries throughout the global South. It explores the dynamics of cramped, insecure housing, poor water and sanitation, neglected neighbourhoods, forced evictions, cities that segregate the rich and the poor, landscapes of conflict and disaster, and discusses their implications for young children. An alternative approach to child protection is proposed, anchored in the actions of organized communities negotiating to challenge inequities, mend their environments and achieve security. There is a fundamental synergy between building community and protecting children. These are not separate agendas. A place that works for children works better for everyone else as well.

This book will be essential reading for all those interested in young children in a global context, whether as child protection professionals, or those with a more general interest in children’s rights issues or in cross cultural approaches to child development. It will also be of great interest to students and researchers of development studies, conflict studies, family studies, child development, public health and urban planning.

Table of Contents

Chapter one: Charting the territory

Chapter two: Background

The prevalence of violence against children

Violence and structural violence

The role of stress

The impact of violence for children

How the physical environment contributes to risk and protection

Chapter three: Home

The experience of violence at home

The physical ecology of abuse and neglect

Neglect and material conditions

Housing quality and abuse

Spatial organization

Housing security

The contribution of neighbourhood conditions

Residential care

Chapter four: Neighbourhood

Tensions over shared space

Service provision, amenities and disamenities

Hot spots, environmental design, and a note of caution

Spatial segregation and the "architecture of fear"

Power, insecurity and fragile cities

The impact of violent neighbourhoods for children’s opportunities

The attraction of violence

Violence at school

Violence at work

Chapter five: Losing home and neighbourhood

Migration and trafficking

Children on the street


Refugees and IDPs

Everyday violence and distress

Chapter six: Expanding the child protection paradigm

Formal child protection systems and their reach

The effectiveness of the formal systems

Bottom up approaches to child protection

Expanding the focus

Chapter seven: Responses that start from the physical environment

Housing security

Housing that works for families

Neighbourhood space and amenities

Responding to violence in school and on the way to school

Crime prevention through environmental design and supportive policing

Reintegrating and reclaiming urban space

Protective environments in disaster and emergency


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Sheridan Bartlett works primarily on issues of urban poverty as they affect children in low-income countries, bridging the gap between the work of child-focused agencies and the broader development agenda.


"Sheridan Bartlett offers a trenchant analysis of the complex network of physical and sociocultural features that constitute the ecology of childhood violence.  Her book unpacks this complex network, with critical insights for policy and practice, organizing and extending what we know about how environments transact with people and institutions to endanger children." Gary William Evans, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

"Mainstream development rarely considers violence against children and its catastrophic impacts. This book makes a compelling case for bringing children’s protection into development practice, and especially for supporting the organized communities that can best meet children’s needs, alongside their efforts for equity and better living conditions."David Satterthwaite, International Institute for Environment and Development, London 

"Ranging expertly across child development, protection, poverty, urbanization and community development, Sheridan Bartlett makes a compelling case for considering the physical dimensions of violence. This book forever changes our understanding of violence by opening up its framing beyond the personal and by masterfully embedding it in a larger socio-spatial ecology." — Sudeshna Chatterjee, CEO, Action For Children’s Environments, New Delhi

"This remarkable, authoritative volume makes a unique contribution to our understanding of the causes, consequences and most effective means of addressing the numerous forms of violence endured by children across the globe. Arguing that children’s surroundings can be a crucial determinant, Sheridan Bartlett makes a forceful case for expanding child protection beyond the immediate and personal to embrace the spatial and material conditions that structure children’s lives. Bartlett’s razor sharp observation is substantiated by compelling research evidence and concrete examples; I highly recommend this book, with its fresh perspective, to all who seek to get to grips with and bring an end to one of the world’s gravest social problems."Jo Boyden, Professor of International Development, University of Oxford