Demonising children makes them feel worthless, says Children’s Society

Demonising children for committing low- level offences while rarely holding to account the adults who have neglected and abused the same children can only result in children feeling worthless, the Children’s Society say this week.

In the latest publication produced by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London, Liz Lovell and Kathy Evans argue that these conflicting policies “can only result in the compounding of the child’s view that they are worthless and powerless”.

At the same time, co-director of Inquest Deborah Coles argues that the punitive systems in England and Wales have resulted in the 29 deaths of children in penal custody. She says their case files reveal “the institutional and psychological violence inflicted by the state on children and young people”.

Martin Kettle, head of special units at Whitemoor prison in March, Cambridgeshire also argues that there is “no such thing as dangerous and severe personality disorder” and that such a label is little more than a brand.

Absolute public safety can never be guaranteed, adds Terry Grange, the lead on public protection at the Association of Chief Police Officers. Analysing how society deals with violent and dangerous behaviour , Grange added that: “Until we get the public to understand that, we will continue to be assessed by individual incidents where we have failed.”

The chief inspector of probation Andrew Bridges added that new measures to deal with serious offenders including the government’s proposed Violent Offender Orders “contributes to the public expectation”.

He added that if probation staff had a caseload of less than 30, they would be “more likely to do a better job”.

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