Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

CHILDREN. FAMILY AND THE STATE: Decision-Making and Child Participation

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

CHILDREN. FAMILY AND THE STATE: Decision-Making and Child Participation

Article excerpt

THOMAS, Nigel, CHILDREN. FAMILY AND THE STATE: Decision-making and Child Participation. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 2001, 242 pp., $65.00 hardcover.

With this book, Nigel Thomas aims at an exploratory evaluation of the British system of state care for children. More specifically, he looks into the actual voice of children in discussions about their living conditions and future and he argues in favor of an increase of child participation in decision-making.

To put his analysis of children under state caution in a wider perspective, the author starts his book with some introductory chapters. The latter provide an overview of childhood theories, recent developments in child psychology and the current state of children's rights. From all three, Nigel Thomas concludes that children are to be treated as autonomous actors, with whom one should communicate on the basis of a 'presumption of competence'. Nevertheless, for daily practice, the author recognizes that getting the balance right between autonomy and quality care presents an ongoing challenge.

Two intermediate chapters follow this introductory sketch. The first highlights the historical developments in the relationship between the British state and children and their parents. It marks the law of 1989 as the provisional end-point, because the latter stresses the importance of child participation in decisions regarding their daily life and future, while remaining vague on the practical consequences of this principle. In a second descriptive chapter, Nigel Thomas describes the history of the state care system and its current population. he makes clear that the system currently strives to implement the 1989 law, but exhibits a large variety in actual child participation. This variation is attributed in a large part to the difficulties inherent in adult-child communication and the variability of adults' reactions to these difficulties.

In the final part of the book, Nigel Thomas own research project is focused on. The author started originally with two surveys among children to get an idea of the level of child participation in 'decision-making meetings'. These surveys point at a large age effect, with children below 8 participating only seldom, children above 12 participating quite often and children in the middle group having a very unpredictable participation pattern. Of course, many substantive questions remained after the analysis of the surveys. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.