Friday, 23 November 2007

Collective responsibility for children and young people There is a perception among adults that the community is currently fractured and that it needs to unite and recognise the collective responsibility of all for the children and young people in their midst. People see the role of the community as providing guidance and support for young people, but also spending time with them and providing activities for them to do. This suggests the potential for the community to get more actively involved with young people, giving time, skills and resources to promote happy, healthy and safe childhoods. This comes from a lengthy consultation report published today by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, which summarises 'knowledge on the wellbeing of children and young people in England today' and will form the basis of the forthcoming Children's Plan, due next month. It incorporates the views of children, young people and adults. It's unfortunate how a statement like this one (especially the last sentence quoted) suggests the resilient notion that there is something called 'the community' which government still feels it can exhort or conjure up for a given cause. Off-hand I can think of a few points to be taken into account before the problem can be cured by community involvement; such as - the extent to which informal social control has been designed-out and people encouraged not to occupy their own neighbourhoods, and to drive all over other people's; the difference in scale between the mental map of 'community' held by an official (local government or similar agency) and the neighbourhood as perceived by even moderately localised residents; the contribution made by policy over the past ten years towards a culture which vilifies young people (the Blunkett legacy). But meanwhile, it's reassuring that the importance of informal social control emerges when government starts talking to people and listening to what they say. Press release.

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