Family intervention policies
When Gordon Brown announced that teenage mothers would be housed in residential units, the initiative was dismissed by some commentators as the desperate gimmick of a beleaguered government. But Family Intervention Projects (officially rolled out across the country on 4th November) are arguably the logical extension of years of official intervention into family life. From preventing anti-social behaviour to forming the character of the next generation, it is increasingly asserted that the early years of childrens’ development are key to shaping our society.
The parental role has never seemed more important, this month a report by Demos argued that ‘parents are the primary character builders in our society’. But does a plethora of official interventions, from Family Intervention Projects, to Sure-Start, help or hinder parents in bringing up their children? Are the first three years of childrens’ lives really so crucial to determining their life chances, and is parental influence on children the most important one? Should we be arguing for complete parental autonomy, or do we think that, even if some interventions are authoritarian in form some parents may need an official helping hand now and again?
‘Building Character: parents are the principle architects of a fairer society’, by Jan Lexmond and Richard Reeves, 9 November 2009
‘How Gordon Brown plans to tackle Britain’s anti-social behaviour problem’, 1 November 2009