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The changing face of fear

From something essential to our moral character to a quasi-medical condition, views on the role of fear in childhood are ever evolving, writes Frank Furedi

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Since modern times, ideas about childrearing have always been influenced by the way that society perceived the role of fear in childhood. Until the middle of the 19th-century fear was perceived as not only a natural but also a necessary part of childhood. According to the guideline provided by the British-based Church Missionary Society to teachers in 1819: “It is necessary, that children fear the schoolmaster.” Fear was regarded as an indispensable instrument for building the moral character of a child and parents were instructed to regard this emotion as a normal feature of a healthy ...

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