Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Getting Them One Way Or Another

Following on from yesterday's post - about ACPO distancing itself from collecting DNA from children deemed most likely to offend in the future - the Government are pressing ahead with their "baby ASBO" plan.

Trouble makers as young as 10 years old are to be asked to sign a good behaviour contract to stop them going off the rails. About 1,000 of the "most challenging" children will be expected to stick to the order, or risk a criminal record. Of course once they've been questioned or charged their DNA will be taken anyway.

Children's Minister Beverley Hughes said that "the best form of prevention is cure... We can spot early warning signs in young people and families where things are going wrong - poor parenting, lessons skipped and complaints about behaviour... To change, rather than just contain, we need tough action on the underlying problems." She denied the measures would replicate work already being done.

And that is something I have levelled at the Government before and I shall level it here again.

There are already provisions in place for truancy officers to stop children who are not in school and to return them. There are already provisions in place for parents of regular truant children to be fined and in extreme cases imprisoned unless the child's attendance improves. There are many, many provisions for Social Workers to step in if they feel that a parent is not bringing a child up properly.

Just because the Government isn't allocating sufficient resources - or setting quantitive rather than qualitative targets - to the right people doesn't mean that we need another whole raft of legislation put in place at a cost of £218million. The only purpose of which seems to be to get more people onto the DNA database at an earlier stage in their lives.

Making children feel like criminals will, in my opinion, only speed up their progression to becoming actual criminals in later life.

I do, however, agree with the sentiments of youth worker Shaun Bailey (who is also Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith) who said "We need to change the notion around parenting. So many parents up and down the country believe it is their divine right not to parent their children properly and there is absolutely no come-back."

As I have said previously, are you sure you need a child?

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