Whose child is it anyway?

Whose child is it anyway? After many years of working in the social care field with children and young people, I’m forced to ask whose child is it anyway. In this era children are habitually give unwarranted labels in schools at a very early age, and parents’ who are frequently ill-equipped, fail to challenge this happening. Further to this, children are excluded from school at an alarming rate and, once again, parents are often ill-equipped to challenge this.  Over the years, those in government have passed various legislations which have destroyed parental power, and their ability to manage their children behaviour, consequently, children from a young age have become the ruler of their own destiny. These mis-judgements have been a recipe for adversity and complications which are rippling through our society in many shapes and forms.  The failings of the education system which is often experienced by some children, the lack of adequate community socialisation for children and young people and an overly cumbersome and bureaucratic criminal justice system, has add to the many difficulties that are faced by some families.

In society today there are many issues that cause us anxieties. One such issue of social concern should be that, at present there are 87,000 people in custody in the UK.  During 2013 the DFE highlighted that there is less than 1% of children in England in the care of the state, however looked after children make up 33% of boys and 61% of girls in custody (Prison Reform Trust 2014).   Of the overall figure of inmates 57% will be released into the community in the next 12 month, and of this number, 60% will re-offend within the first 12 months. You may agree that those figures are pretty alarming, you may further ask what’s been done about offending and re-offending.  In 2013 Chris Grayling the minster for crime, noted that the ministry of justice was spending in excess of £65,000, to convict, incarcerate and rehabilitate offenders, this figure is pushed higher for those who re-offend in a short time after release.  The ‘Howard League’ is an organisation who works with young offenders. Coupled with them are other organisations who agree that the re-offending rate is high and is contributed to by many external and social factors.  Many would say that this behaviour has been contributed to by the lack of positive parenting and absent fathers. Other would say it’s the brainchild of poverty, deprivation, negative media and instant gratification. Many young people within the criminal justice system have suffered from some varying degree of mental health issues for example: 18% of 13–18 year old have depression, 10% have anxiety, 9% have post-traumatic stress disorder and 5% have psychotic symptoms (Youth Justice) (Charlotte Lennox , Lorraine Khan).  Some 40% of children and young people in custody have previously been homeless. These numbers paint an alarming picture and leads us to ask the following questions:

Due to a bigoted society, are the youth of today less resilient then years ago?

Are we losing the fight against youth crime?

Does incarceration have a positive or negative effect on youth crime?

Should communities be looking inwards for solutions to these occurrences?

Has the village/family around the child disappeared?

And in order to answer these questions should we be asking, “Whose child is it anyway?”

Claudine Duberry is CEO and Founder of Taking Positive Steps and Associates Ltd., a company that has been in the business of working and engaging with young people in the criminal justice system for a number of years.