It is a common misconception regarding such qualities as innocence and responsibility, which are associated with a specific stage of human development. The former is tied to childhood, whereas the latter stands as a symbol of adulthood. However, they are often misinterpreted and confused with other notions. Hence, it is necessary to explore why these traits are often misunderstood and define the advantages and disadvantages of both.
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Innocence can be determined as the characteristic of a person who does not know evil. An essential feature of an innocent person is that there are no value differences, norms for them; they do not realize themselves in any way in relation to them. The state of serenity, integrity, and harmony inherent in an innocent person is like the blissful state of a baby: it is natural and extra-moral. Since innocence is not a scientific term, many research fields such as psychology, theology, and others can provide data on this particular phenomenon. This quality is often interpreted as childish; however, it is mistaken to think so.
Individuals tend to perceive kids as innocent human beings due to their simplicity and purity in views on many everyday issues. Children’s lack of knowledge about the difference between good and evil makes them unaware of what is happening around them. Innocence is also referred to as the absence of sexuality in children (Beyond the Innocence of Childhood 270). However, an adult can be innocent as well, for instance, when they are not guilty of committing any crime or when their views on life are pure. On the one hand, this trait is positive because it brings no harm to any person. In addition, it proves a human’s sincerity and honesty towards others.
Nonetheless, innocence makes one vulnerable, leading a person to become a victim. It is often taken for infantilism, the quality of behaving childishly in many situations. Hence, being innocent can be attributed to both children and adults.
Responsibility is the ability of a subject to adequately answer for what he has been entrusted with or what he has taken on himself. If a person promised to do something – and did it, they can be referred to as responsible. Adulthood, maturity, and wisdom come with an understanding of liability. An adult fully understands their responsibility for life, for their knowledge, and experience. Moreover, often middle-aged people are seen as liable because they have jobs and families that they have to take care of. However, deep, inner adulthood or maturity can come at any age.
Being accountable for everything in life has its positive and negative sides. Advantageously, a person can make their own decisions, thus, impacting their lives. What is more, responsibility gives one a sense of self-sufficiency and self-worth. On the downside, the excessiveness of this trait is that a human does not allow oneself to express emotions and is always over-controlling (Turner 54). The constant stress associated with the responsibility is the foundation of mental and physical health problems.
In summary, innocence and responsibility are often attributes as a measure of age. However, these notions are only related to human qualities and can be observed at any stage of human development: an adult can be innocent, while a child can be responsible. Both traits are positive and negative in some way, and there should be a balance between those two to achieve a harmonious level of life.
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Turner, Ralph, editor. Social Psychology: Sociological Perspectives. Taylor & Francis, 2017.
Beyond the Innocence of Childhood: Factors Influencing Children and Adolescents’ Perceptions and Attitudes. Vol. 1, Taylor & Francis, 2020.