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Investing in Children: Policy, Law and Practice in Content

NCJ Number
Christine Piper
Date Published
266 pages
This historical analysis of the United Kingdom’s efforts to invest in the lives of its children and youth focuses on why it has been so difficult for successive governments to spend sufficient public money on services and support for children and their families.
The book’s central argument is that ideologies, social constructions, and moral precepts are at least as important as science and law in obstructing or encouraging the passage and full implementation of legislation, policy, and practice intended to improve the lives and prospects of children. In developing this argument, the first half of the book addresses the cultural concepts and values of family and parental responsibility, assumptions about the nature of children and youth and their social responsibilities, the extent to which they should be held accountable for what they are and do, as well as the current preoccupation with children’s risk for emotional and behavioral problems and the role of government investment against future risks. The second part of the book discusses the role of science and law in formulating and implementing the Nation’s investment in children. It notes an over-reliance on science and the limitations of law as an enforcer of policies. The final chapters examine the results of research to date on relevant selected intervention programs for children and youth, identifying positive developments. The last chapter focuses on the alternative agendas for children and youth that are competing for government money and the public’s support. The chapter warns that there are dangers in a child-focused policy whose justification relies heavily on future cost savings that stem from the production of healthier, more employable, and law-abiding adults. It advises that each phase of a child’s and youth’s life (his/her health, happiness, and positive development) is important for its own sake. Chapter notes, 428 references, and a subject index