Is death taboo for children? Developing death ambivalence as a theoretical framework to understand children's relationship with death, dying and bereavement

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    Children’s voices are missing from debates related to the idea that death is a taboo subject and this limits understandings of how children encounter death. Drawing on data from focus groups with children aged 9–12, this paper aimed to explore if and how children experience death as a taboo, but discovered that the death-taboo thesis lacks nuance, confining and misrepresenting children’s experiences. Death ambivalence is thus proposed as a conceptual tool to illuminate children’s relationship with death. It identifies policy and practice implications concerned with developing death literacy and brings a new theorisation to death and childhood studies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)556-571
    Number of pages16
    JournalChildren and Society
    Issue number6
    Early online date17 Jul 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2019


    • death
    • taboo
    • children
    • bereavement
    • ambivalence

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