Young People in Care and Criminal Behaviour

Young People in Care and Criminal Behaviour

Young People in Care and Criminal Behaviour

Young People in Care and Criminal Behaviour

Synopsis

Is there a proven link between criminal activity and children in public care? How might care be made a more positive experience for young people, and how could offending rates during and after care be reduced? Young People in Care and Criminal Behaviour addresses the lack of systematic enquiry into these questions and debunks widely held assumptions surrounding looked-after children and crime.

Excerpt

This is a book that ought to be read not only by academics and researchers in the fields of child care and criminal careers, but also by those responsible for shaping child-care policy. It sheds new theoretical light on an important concept in studies of criminality and child development, and presents vivid and often moving empirical material on what it means to be a child ‘in care’.

The central theoretical concept of the book is attachment, which, as Claire Taylor argues, has been used by criminologists and specialists in child care and development in different ways. the academic habit of staying within the reassuring boundaries of one’s discipline has meant that until now there has been no productive dialogue between criminological control theorists, for whom attachment to others is a crucial element of the social bond, and child development specialists, for whom attachment is the key to a successful adult identity and indeed to psychological health. Taylor’s interdisciplinary approach allows her to begin to make connections between the two fields of research that should help to produce advances in studies of the links between childhood experiences and careers in care in particular – and later criminal careers.

While recognising, and amply illustrating, the ways in which negative experiences of care can contribute to subsequent criminal involvement, Claire Taylor is also concerned to argue that there is nothing inevitable about such a progression. the fact of having been in care (or, in contemporary language, been a ‘looked-after’ child) does not inevitably or inherently predict later criminal involvement. Instead, the quality of the experience of care is crucial, and if children and young people are allowed to develop attachments to caring adults there is no reason why having been in care should be associated with continuing delinquency or disadvantage. Taylor argues cogently against the pessimism and fatalism that have characterised much discussion of the care system, and . . .

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