Aspects of Agency in Children's Perspectives on Risk and Protection
and Nira Wahle
The sociology of childhood, which presents childhood as a unique and important time period in its own right, rather than a preparatory phase for adult life, has evoked increased interest in studies exploring the world of children from their own perspective. Unlike developmental approaches, which focus on the study of individual growth, this framework regards children as a social group operating and interacting with other groups in a wide socio-cultural space. The sociology of childhood theory maintains that children have the ability to act, influence, and change their environments, and therefore, possess agency. The dimension of context is included in the definition of "agency," implying that the ability to change depends on the situation and reciprocal individual-environment relationships.
The current paper focuses on aspects of agency in children's perspectives on risk and protection. The study is based on a database from a national study on children's perspectives of risk and protection in Israel, conducted within the framework of the NEVET greenhouse for context-informed research and training at the School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. We found that children believe in their ability to change the world. Moreover, they express desire and ability to freely choose their actions and think independently and critically. In addition, we found that children emphasize the emotional aspects of their actions.