Popular perceptions of disrupted childhoods

Winter 2017

For decades, public policy-making has fundamentally failed ‘looked-after’ children within the care of local governments across the UK. The care system very rarely properly provides for the vulnerable children they take into public ownership; and among its most critical failures are its apparent inability to provide stable living situations, appropriate pastoral care or family mediation. Perhaps unsurprisingly in view of this lack of will to provide the resources that might be able to break the cycles of poverty and abuse, research shows that children who are victims of disrupted parenting are disproportionately susceptible to what are ambiguously-termed ‘poor outcomes’ - as described across government and academic literature on institutional childcare. The list of poor outcomes includes many behaviours that are deemed unconducive to social cohesion - such as addiction, welfare dependency, criminality, mental illness and learning difficulties. (It is not a coincidence that researchers also find that these ‘poor outcomes’ are also disproportionately prevalent within the working class more broadly. Popular perceptions of the working class are strikingly similar to those of children in foster care and other disrupted parenting situations.)

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Soundings 67: Ways of resisting