This website is now archived. While it is fully functioning, I no longer maintain it and comments are turned off on most posts. Please visit the updated

Children: Over Surveilled, Under Protected

We’ve all heard the stories; someone is murdered – the person arrested in connection with the murder has a history of violence, drug taking, and suffered parental abuse as a child. It’s understandable, but does that mean that all children who were abused, or young adults who have violent temperaments and those who take drugs will end up being murderers or serial thieves? Is it possible to say that those born into a disadvantaged or dysfunctional family will become criminals?

According to the government today, yes.

The Children’s Minister is to announce today that in the future the government plan on identifying children with criminal tendencies, or those prone to failure, at birth. These children and families will then be assigned ‘Super Nannies’ to steer them in the right direction.

Is this early intervention a good idea? Could this not do a child or family more harm? Social exclusion for children at risk is bad enough already without a child having to develop and live life with this stigma. What would such a change in social policy do to the already stretched Children’s Services apart from take time away from health and social workers, midwives (yes, midwives… these are the workers singled out to ask questions and report at risk children) and other health workers?

To me, this sounds like something from Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog! Who am I to comment though – I’m a Computer Scientist, not a Child Psychologist.

For an insightful commentary on this I suggest reading this article over at The Register. The Observer‘s article is also worth a look.

NB: The title for this post comes from a recent LSE conference on child social policy: link here.