It is difficult for a child to grow up without experiencing some form of gender bias or stereotyping. When in school, many of their ideas and beliefs are reinforced by their friends, teachers, and other adults. For example, when teachers ask their students to form two lines, there is usually one line for boys and the other for girls. When children play, they avoid playing with the opposite sex because they prefer the company of their own kind. The result is a self-imposed segregation between boys and girls. Research has been done on this phenomenon. Many sociologists have been trying to explain gender roles and differences. Some say sex differences are biologically determined and some believe they are socially constructed. Children behave accordingly to their gender roles as early as two or three years old. From preschool on up to middle-school, children live in two separate worlds– girls and boys. Inside the classroom, children often chose to sit with others of the same sex. This separation is also seen outside of the classroom– boys played with other boys and girls with other girls. Barrie Thorne who wrote, Girls and Boys Together…But Mostly Apart: Gender Arrangements in Elementary Schools, states that the separate worlds exist as a result of deliberate activity (p. 140). Boys and girls have separate tables where they sit in the lunchroom. If a boy were to sit on one of the girls’ tables, he would be laughed at or called a girl by other boys. Thorne explains that teachers and aides use gender as a basis for sorting children and organizing activities. They have math and spelling contests where boys compete with girls and sometimes children are lined up separately when walking down the halls. Other studies have distinguished between aspects of stereotypes by separately asking about what is typical in girls and boys versus what would be ideal. For example, Rothbart and Maccoby (1966) assessed parents’ opinions about differences that actually exist between boys and girls and differences that should exist. Similarly, Maccoby and Jacklin (1974) were interested in comparing parents’ beliefs about sex differences in young children with how desirable certain characteristics are for girls and boys. They reported that the characteristics perceived as being typical of boys and girls were quite different. Typical boy behaviors were being noisy, rough, active, competitive, defying punishment, and enjoying mechanical objects. Typical girl behaviors were helpful, neat and clean, quiet, well-mannered, crying, and being easily frightened. In contrast, parents reported that it was important for both boys and girls to be neat and clean, helpful, to take care of themselves, not to cry, to be competitive, and to be thoughtful and considerate. These results lead Maccoby and Jacklin to speculate that parents may be trying to socialize children of both sexes toward the same goals. In my field research, I observed children in an elementary school in order to understand how gender roles are formed, especially at an early age. I went to Hollingworth Elementary School in West Covina, California. This is the school I went to during my years in elementary. The school is only a ten-minute walk from my house in Los Angeles. The children I was most interested in studying were from the ages of six through eight– first and second graders. I took on the view from a distant position, being a complete observer. I went to the school during their lunch hour, observing the children during their recess time. I only had a notebook and pen in order to write down what I observed. I situated myself on one o the planters located to the side of the blacktop, near the handball courts. Before starting my observation, I went to the principal’s office to inform them of my research project. They were very accommodating and told me I was able to observe the children from a distance. I did not spend five hours in one day observing the children. Instead, I went to the school during the week and observed them about an hour each time. The role I took on as a complete observer did not pose any problems. A few children looked and stared at me, probably wondering what I was doing there, sitting alone on a planter. I was very comfortable where I was and had no problems, aside from the looks. I wondered if my being there caused the children to behave differently but after awhile, the children went on playing their games and did not seem to notice me anymore. There were no significant differences each time I observed the children. The setting was the sameI sat on the same planter with my notebook and pen in hand. Through my observations, I have concluded that children learn to adopt to their gender roles at an early age. Through their many activities, games, and encouragements and discouragements from teachers, children experience the process of gender role socialization. There are always some sort of stereotyping of boys and girls, whether it be the expectation that boys are better than girls in math or the idea that only females can nurture children. The children I observed proved that at an early age, boys and girls unconsciously learn to behave according to their gender roles. Their sense of self is a result of the ideas, attitudes, and beliefs to which he or she is exposed. The teachers and aides who were watching the children during recess proved this point. For example, a boy who was playing kickball accidentally ran into another boy when he tried to get to the first base. The other boy then pushed him and the teacher ran out to the field. The teacher handled the boys aggressively, pulling them away from each other and telling them to stand on the blacktop for the rest of their recess. Another instance was with three girls playing jumprope. One of the girls got caught on the rope and then fell down. The teacher rushed to her as the girl started to cry. She handled her with more care and spoke to her with a more comforting voice, unlike the situation with the boys. While playing their games, boys and girls tend to play with their own gender. I observed one situation where one boy started watching the girls playing on the twirling bars. One of his friends came up to him and said, What are you doing? Thats for girls. Lets go. The boy looked a little embarrassed and quickly left with his friend to play kickball. There were a couple of instances where boys interacted with girls. That was when one boy was chasing two girls. He chased her in the field while the girl started teasing him and chanting, Jason has cooties.Jason has cooties. When recess ended, everyone had to freeze until the teacher blew her whistle for the children to line up to their rooms. In front of each door, the children formed two linesone for the boys and the other for the girls. One teacher encouraged this by reminding them that the boys on the left side and girls on the right. As mentioned before, children learn to act according to their gender roles. They are taught how to behave and how to act amongst their peers. One day, a teacher actually told a boy to stop crying because boys are not supposed to cry. I found this very interesting especially since she did not say the same thing to the girl who fell while playing jumprope. Children are then told how to behave according to their gender role. When observing the whole playground, I noticed that girls played nicely and boys more aggressively. The girls were more courteous when it came to letting others join in their gams. Boys tended to shout at other boys saying, You cant playyoure too lateyou have to wait till were done. From this field research project I have learned that children do learn to behave according to their gender roles. Not only are their ideas and attitudes being shaped and reinforced by their teachers, but their friends as well. Teachers often act differently when interacting with boys than with girls. They are more aggressive towards boys and more comforting and closer to the girls. I also noticed that the girls played in areas that were closer to their teachers. The boys played out in the field, away from teachers who could easily discourage them from acting the way they want to act. My field research was comparable to that of Barrie Thornes. In Thornes data, he sometimes found girls and boys playing together in kickball and other group games. When these children defined an activity to be a girl or boys game, whoever crosses the boundary, would risk being teased. This teasing, according to Thorne, is used to police or control gender boundaries. There was not much contrast with his observations compared to mine. In summary, boys take on a more aggressive and rough role than do girls. They are not supposed to cry or show signs of feminine behaviors. Girls are handled more with care and they tend to behave more quietly and nicely than do boys. If I were to continue with this project, I would take it to another level and observe adolescents. I would then compare both results to see if teens also behave this way. I would want to know if adolescents are influenced to behave according to their gender roles by the friends they hang around with and by their teachers. If I had more time on my hands, I would observe college students as well. In this case I would take on the role of a participant as observer.
Sociology Essays


Stacey Reed
Speech 131
My topic, disciplining a child, got several different responses among all the surveys. At first I figured that I wouldnt have to do a lot of persuading to get my audience to agree with my side. I truly believe that hitting a child is wrong. The surveys I got back from the audience proved otherwise. It is now evident that I have my work cut out for me after all. My first question asked if my audience was ever disciplined as a child and 99% of the audience said yes. The most common responses towards how they were disciplined proved to be grounding and some form of hitting. When asked what child abuse meant to them, I was surprised to see that some 25% said that it involved mental abuse and physically harming a child. One distinct survey stuck out. It said, ” abuse which physically harms the child enough to bruise, or cause lasting pain, or physical punishment that is misdirected anger.” That is very close to the right answer. Of course a lot more people chose to say “very abusive hitting” which is the response I figured I would get. However, that is the wrong defintion. I then asked if the audience if they would ever “slap their children around” meaning a little more than just a friendly pat, and a surprising 45% said yes. Nonetheless, all of the surveys expressed their interest in learning new ways to discipline a child.

In interpreting the audiences responses, I was amazed to see that much of the audience believed in hitting their own children. In a sense I guess I was expecting to not have to persuade much of my audience that hitting a child can have lasting effect, but then again this speech is all about persuading.For some, if being hit as a child worked on them, then I suppose most feel it will work for their kids. It is scary to see ahead of time that most of my audience does plan to use this form of discipline. Perhaps they they dont know exactly how far to go with their hitting, but rather they just plan to do what they know. On the other hand, like me, a good part of the audience realizes that there are ways to avoid hitting or mentally abusing a child. Even if some of my audience still feels as though a good spanking is good for a child, possibly after my speech they will also use or convert to using alternate forms of discipline that I will explain. All of the audience was open to know new forms of discipline, and all but one claimed they were disciplined as children. When asked to rate forms of disciplines listed, I was saddened to see that most didnt rate spanking as a 1 or 2. (5 being the best, 1 being the worst) It was mostly rated between 3-5. Grounding was really prominent and the rest of the types of disciplines varied between people. For the most part, I feel as though either the audience learned this form of discipline (hitting) from their parents and its just getting passed on from generation to generation, or they truly believe that hitting makes a child better. I want to prove, that if anything, a light hitting ( on the butt as a child) or other forms of discipline could work much better. Overall, I was happy by a good percentage of the class definition of child abuse.
It seems that as impressive as some of the “child abuse” definitions were, it didnt seem to matter to some that hitting is the worst discipline for a child. It is possible that most of the audience is misinterpreting the question, or they simply think that it is okay to do anything to a child as long as it doesnt cause huge black and blue marks. Regardless, even that is wrong and I want to persuade the audience that anything, other than gently hitting a child, causes emotional scars and can mentally damage a child in the end. In proving this, (with parts of my case helping it along) I intend to supply other forms of disciplines to back up my conclusions. I plan to provide for my audience a definition of child abuse and explain to them how each form of discipline can work for or against a child.

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My purpose is to persuade the audience that punishing a child by hitting them leaves more emotional scars on them than physical scars. Some young adults today have been the victims of being hit and mentally abused in their family and will come to use this form of discipline on their own children. I want the audiences views to change in the sense that they believe that there are alternate forms of discipline to be used instead of the obvious.

As views on child disciplining are slowly evolving, physical violence is being incorporated as a way to better the younger generation, while in reality it is only hurting the children. There are other adequate ways of disciplining without hitting or mentally abusing.

I want the introduction to be something like this; Imagine a girl sitting off in a corner of her living room crying her eyes out. Imagine her nursing a broken heart and painful red marks on her arms and butt. Then imagine her dad gloating in the kitchen, proud that he had showed her who was boss. What did this little girl do to get her in this position you may wonder. She did nothing other than be a child and being a child means acting michievious at times. That was me and could easily be on of your children or one of you. How a child is discilpined can be crucial to their future behavior and parents in the 90’s are at a loss for different ways to punish their children besides hitting them. The family is supposed to be a structure for a child where there is security, love, emotion, an opportunity to grow, and a place to run to when everything else comes crashing down. Most families are able to satisfy this idea of nuturance, though these days some parents cannot. Hence, it is not surprising to find violence continuing to occur in several homes. What was once thought of as simply punishing a child, is slowly becoming what society would call child abuse.

I. What a families role is to a child.

A. A structure in which there is an opportunity to grow.

B. A place to run to when everything else comes crashing down.

C. A place of security, warmth, and trust.

II. Defintions of child abuse.

A. When children are slapped, hit, kicked, shoved or have objects thrown at them.

B. Beating, neglect, or other mistreatment of a child by a parent or guardian.

C. Any form of mental abuse directed towards a child. (i.e. calling them names)
III. Why some families choose to use this form of violence.

A. They want to prove to the child that they are the one in charge.

B. The parent or guardian has a bad day and takes outside influences out on the child.

C. They want to teach their child right from wrong.

D. They are just passing it down to the next generation. The parent was also hit as a child.

IV. How a child feels after they have sustained this abuse.

A. They have a feeling of inferiority, insecurity, and helplessness.

B. The child will have a lot of disrespect towards the person who hit them later in life.

C. They sometimes will have a lack of trust towards the person that hit them. They are often left scared of that person.

V. What violence towards a child can lead to.

A. Emotional scarring often occurs where the child separated themselves from the hitter.

B. Many children will come to sustain long- or short-term emotional or psychological trauma. They have a sense of failure and a low self-esteem.

C. They can grow up to become violent themselves, turning on their friends and parents, even starting fights at school.

VI. Environmental factors act as a role to parents and children.

A. The children are learning at school that hitting is child abuse and they can report it to the police.

B.Some violent cases in the home are due to poverty, drug use, unemployement, andother stresses that the parents endure as outside influences.

C. T.V. is is an environmental factor that plays a role for both the child and parent. Most shows on the tube these days are of violent content and acting almost as a role model to conformity.

VII. Alternate forms of discipline that dont always work as well.

A. Time outs are something that can work up until the child is around 4, but after that itloses its touch.

B. Standing a child in the corner can work until about 10 years old when it becomes a joke.

C. Grounding a child can work for awhile in their teen years, but after awhile the parentwill end up giving in more often and allow the child to run free.

VIII. Alternate forms of disciplines that work efficiently.

A. In the younger years telling them they cant go out to play with their friends can work well. As can retracting their dinner from them.

B. Sending a child to their room or very light slapping can also work. They will know who is boss, and wont be as scared of their parent in the end.

C. The best alternate form is to take away a priveledge from the child. Finding something the child really likes to do and taking it away work best because they will try to act good until they get that priveledge or object back.

D. Trust is a really good form of discipline that not every family can have, but hopefullyeach family can learn to grow into. It serves as the best discipline of all because when a family trusts, it loves.

In conclusion, hitting is a barbaric action and parents should think twice these days before laying a hand on their children. I believe that with the newer generation and their headstrong personalities coming in, hitting no longer benefits but can worsen a childs view of the world. Tradition is no longer tradition but the old way of doing things. We are no longer in the past, but the present where new and more cautious methods of discipline are available. A parent merely starts the mold of the child and introduces them into society. ” To the infant its nursery is the world. The first idea of the human race are its particular conceptions of its nurse and mother; and the origin and history of all its notions may be traced to its animal wants, to the light that breaks in from its window, and to the few objects in the immediate neighborhood of the cradle and hearth” (Upham 3).

1.Helfer, Ray E, et al. Child Abuse and Neglect: The Family and the Community
Massachusetts: Ballinger Publishing Co.

– This book contained information on the family and how it’s supposed to interact in a formal fashion. It also talks about the outside environment of a child and how a child develops an understanding of the outside world.

2.Erikson, Edsel L, et al. Child Abuse and Neglect: A Guidebook for Educators andCommunity Leaders.

Florida: Learning Publications Inc.

– This reference book defined the characteristics of what child abuse is and what it stands for. It went into how other people can take notice of a child who is unhappy in their home. It tells of the signs and symptoms of an abused child and what to do about it.

3.Bourne, Richard and Newberger, Eli H. Critical Perspectives on Child Abuse
Massachusetts: D.C. Health and Co.

– This book shows more of the alternative methods of disiplining a child. It shows various
perspectives from different phychologists and sociologists on what this type of disipline does to a
child. The book tells of different cases of child neglect and abuse.

4.Gerbner, George, et al. Child Abuse: An Agenda for Action.

New York: Oxford University Press
– This book tells more about violence in the home and how it is carried from one generation to the next. It goes into even more alternative forms of disipline and shows how disiplining a child by hitting them can later in life cause a hateful environment in the home.