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No 12 - 2010

The Child and the City
Directed by Marie-Soleil Cloutier, Juan Torres

The Child and the City: Introductory Notes
Marie-Soleil Cloutier, Juan Torres

The relationship between the child and the city has been arousing growing interest amongst practitioners and research workers across the world. The present introduction is intended to contextualize contemporary analysis, placing it at the confluence of urban change and new approaches to representations of childhood. What emerge more especially are the connections between the various theoretical standpoints as to the relationship between the individual and the environment, and the way in which the child is viewed. Thus, the passivity of the individual which is implicit in a disjunctive approach calls up the determinist concept of childhood, where the main concern is the impact of the city on a “defenseless” population. The conjunctive approach, on the other hand, views the child as a dynamic player and invites the researcher and the practitioner to explore the city with the child’s eyes. This change of perspective leads them to attempt to understand and work with children to shape their environment. Through a short presentation of the various articles which make up this number, the authors provide an overview of the main issues that emerge from studies which include the mobility of primary school children as seen by the town planner, the psychologist’s view of the socialization of traffic risk as it affects the child pedestrian, the consideration to be given to adolescents when designing or developing urban neighbourhoods, the survival strategies practiced by young itinerant workers in the urban surroundings of a developing country, and the impact of traffic “pacifying” measures on children in a context of urban geography.


Providing Suburban Youth with Positive Housing Experiences in their Neighborhood
Benjamin A. Shirtcliff

The population of adolescents living in suburban environments over urban environments is pervasive and yet remains a relatively new construct for the design professions to consider—presenting a gap in how the physical environment is designed to meet their needs. This paper discusses the basic needs of suburban adolescents and suggests how designers can improve their quality of life by creating places of retreat within their neighborhood. Values and needs specific to suburban adolescents are used to assess the quality of suburban open spaces. The focus of this paper is on the physical environment, with background supported by studies from the fields of psychology, sociology, and environmental psychology, history of urban change, and theory and practice in landscape architecture. A case study of a New Urbanism development serves as the critical basis from which real open spaces are reviewed in light of criteria drawn from the literature.


The Teenage Street Workers of Lima: Family Survival Strategies and Metropolisation in Latin America
Robin Cavagnoud

The objective of the present article is to demonstrate how children, living in a very insecure context, use the streets as a space where resources can be developed in such a way as to ensure the survival of their siblings. The strategies they employ are part and parcel of a socio-historical context of massive metropolization that, looked at closely, allows one to trace back the origins of their daily activities to urban unemployment.. This article is rooted in an unashamedly qualitative methodology based on case studies on the sociologies of the child and of insecurity. Though itinerant adolescent labour and the metropolization of Lima can be clearly seen to hinge on the linkage between the micro and macro-sociological spheres, this correlation only makes sense when the use of the street as a resource space is taken into account. In the three cases of working adolescents studied here, the street symbolizes both the space used by children to ensure their own survival and an expanding metropolis.


Parents and the Journeys Between Home and Primary School: What Place for the Child in the City?
Paul Lewis, Juan Torres

The urban structure and organization of the school system impact children’s mobility and more specifically their modes of travelling to and from school. These are affected to a similar extent by parental habits, perceptions and choices. The present article deals with the relationship between parental considerations and behaviours on the one hand and the modes of transportation governing the movement of children from home to school and back again on the other. This study is based on a survey carried out by the Groupe de recherche ville et mobilité, involving 1495 parents of primary level pupils (Frenchlanguage and English- language public and private sector schools) in Montreal and TroisRivières between 2006 and 2008. A linkage will be observed between the forms of transportation used by school children and parental representations with regard to neighborhood safety and the importance of active transportation. Linkage will also be observed between the parents’ and the children’s modes of transportation to and from school.


Children's Mobility Put to the Test on the Street. Impacts of Zones 30 on their Behaviour
Florence Hughenin-Richard

In many cases, urban planning of public spaces aims at “pacifying” automobile traffic in such a way as to improve the living environment (less noise, less pollution), to achieve a more equitable sharing of the street amongst its various users and, above all, to provide a high level of security for those who are the most vulnerable. This development is to be seen in the speed- controlled “Zones 30,” which are widespread in French cities. The question we ask in the present article is whether, by reducing the speed and the number of automobiles, we are also making a positive contribution to the issues linked to sustainable transportation, including that of promoting walking per se. And what impact does it have on the more specific problem of child mobility which, as we know is essentially characterized by a low level of independent urban displacement and a major dependence on car travel? In other words, does the introduction into the neighborhood of a Zone 30 allow children to move around more autonomously, to walk more? To answer this question a series of non-participant observations were carried out in different Zone 30 areas in Paris.


Risk Socialization and Social Construction of Pedestrian Child Behaviours: Considerations for Road Safety Education
Marie-Axelle Granié

The intent of the present paper is to make an inventory of research trends regarding the behaviour of the child pedestrian in the urban environment and to pinpoint the role played by the socialization of risk in the construction of these behaviours. We will be looking more specifically at the differentiation between institutional regulations and social standards and the categorization of the rules of behaviour on which the child bases itself when moving around the city. Examples given include an examination of psychosocial factors that explain gender differences with respect to accidentology, or road accident research. The article concludes by noting the courses of action that have been instituted as regards road safety education, thanks to the recognition of the need for a social construction of child pedestrian behaviours.


The Complexity and Plurality of Maternal Experiences in the Context of Conjugal Violence
Chantal Bourassa

This study, as presented herein, deals with the complexity and plurality of the maternal experiences of women who have been the victims of spousal rape. We have used qualitative interviews of 12 New Brunswick francophone women who had experienced marital violence. The results demonstrate that despite the context of violence, these women found the strength and courage to carry out their maternal role in a sufficient manner. However, each of these mothers believe that the context of violence constituted a factor of stress as regards the exercise of her maternal role. Added to this, financial difficulties, problems of mental health and earlier violent experiences created obstacles to the fulfilment of their maternal role. Finally, weariness, frustration and the living resemblance of father and son, together with the feeling of being unable to cope with their family responsibilities were all sources of maternal ambivalence for these mothers. And, in certain cases, this ambivalence could translate into violent behaviour towards their children.


Perceptions of Brain-Injured Teenagers, their Parents, and Professionals Involved in their Social Inclusion
Jérôme Gauvin-Lepage, Hélène Lefebvre

The intention of this qualitative study is to explore the way in which adolescents, their parents and professionals perceive the social inclusion of adolescents who have suffered a moderate craniocerebral trauma (CCT). Our terms of reference will be Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model (1979, 1986), as adapted by Lefebvre and Levert (2005) for use with a CCT case mix. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with brain-damaged adolescents and their parents. The results show that families’ perceptions touch on different aspects of their lives, pointing to a wide range of repercussions that may facilitate or restrict the social inclusion of an adolescent suffering from a moderate CCT. In general, professionals share these same perceptions. The results of the present study should offer health professionals a better understanding of social inclusion as experienced by these adolescents, while at the same time providing the former with guidelines allowing them to better support the social inclusion of CCT adolescents and to help families living through this difficult situation.