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The Children in Child Health

Negotiating Young Lives and Health in New Zealand

Who are the children in child health policy? How do they live and see the world, and why should we know them? A journey into the lives ofchildren coping in a world compromised by poverty and inequality, The Children in Child Health challenges the invisibility of children’s perspectives in health policy and argues that paying attention to what children do is critical for understanding the practical and policy implications of these experiences.

In the unique context of indigenous Māori and migrant Pacific children in postcolonial New Zealand, Julie Spray explores the intertwining issues of epidemic disease, malnutrition, stress, violence, self-harm, and death to address the problem of how scholars and policy-makers alike can recognize and respond to children as social actors in their health. The Children in Child Health innovatively combines perspectives from childhood studies, medical anthropology, and public health and policy together with evocative ethnography to show how a deep understanding of children’s worlds can change our approach to their care.

Author Information

Julie Spray is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington University in St. Louis.


“This is a beautifully written book that sheds light on children’s understandings of public health messages and practices. It is enlivened by the words of children, at times quirky and at other times heartrending, and by Dr Spray’s critical analysis which situates the children’s experiences within peer ecologies and the landscape of health and social inequities of Aotearoa, New Zealand.”
— Karen Witten, co-editor of Children's Health and Wellbeing in Urban Environments

“At last, a book about child health that puts children at the center: as actors, as co-producers and most importantly as human beings. It should be compulsory reading for health professionals, social workers and anyone else anyone else who takes child health and wellbeing seriously.”
— Kate Hampshire, co-author of Young People’s Daily Mobilities in Sub-Saharan Africa: Moving Young Lives

Audience: College/higher education;