A fundamental shift has occurred in recent decades in how children are understood: they are no longer mere “footnotes” in our societies but are seen as central actors. This transformation of children and their agency is also being recognised in memorials, museums and in historiography, with a growing number of sites developing exhibitions dedicated to the plight and lives of children and families. And children are remembered not merely in the past; they figure prominently in the “memory of the present.”
On September 8, UNICEF launched a large memorial installation in New York City, using 3700 backpacks to draw attention to children killed in conflict zones. Heart-breaking images of child refugees who drowned while trying to reach safety have “gone viral” and become digital memorials of sorts. Thus, the public memory of children – whether long or only just past – links directly to advocacy and the assumption of responsibility in the present, including that of children themselves.