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Children and databases - over surveilled, under protected?

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Radical changes in children's services aim to improve early identification and intervention with children thought to be at risk of failing to reach their potential - the policy set out in the government's 2003 discussion paper Every Child Matters. But will children appearing on more databases really improve their welfare and help agencies in their work?

A half day conference at LSE is being held on Tuesday 27 June to discuss the issues around children's welfare and offer comments to the government in the final consultation period.

This conference is being organised by the Departments of Social Policy and Information Systems at LSE, and ARCH, Action on Rights for Children. The organisers are grateful for the support of the Nuffield Foundation. This conference is a follow up to the Tracking Children conference held at LSE in April 2004.

See http://www.childrenoversurveilled.lse.ac.uk/| for more details of venue and a provisional programme. There is no fee for this conference but places are very limited. Please email: childrenoversurveilled@lse.ac.uk| to reserve a place. You will be sent a ticket by email if places are still available.

Press cuttings

Children: over-surveilled, under-protected (21 July 06)
How have we reached such a state of institutionalised suspicion that a respected vicar can be obliged to resign as a school governor for kissing a 10-year-old girl on the forehead in class? That's what happened in Britain recently. A recent London conference on child protection, held at LSE, offered a rare chance to put such absurd events in some wider critical perspective.

Daily Telegraph
Letters to the editor (30 June 06)
Eileen Munro of the London School of Economics comments on the Government plans to store detailed information on all children in Britain, thus partly excluding parents from the responsibility for the upbringing of their children. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/|

The Guardian
Beware the parent trap (29 June 06)
Plans for government surveillance of the country's 12 million children provide the state with astonishing licence to intervene in the role of parents, yet many of them don't realise the severity of the situation. According to Dr Eileen Munro of the LSE, a nine-month-old baby is the youngest child so far to be identified as a future delinquent using new technology aimed at predicting risk.

Morning Star
Child register 'will attack parents' rights' (28 June 06)
Liberty and Action on Rights of Children raised their concerns about the Government plans to register detailed information on all children in the UK on a national database at a conference at the London School of Economics.

Daily Mail
Big Brother database to record the lives of all children (27 June 06)
The home life of every child in the country is to be recorded on a national database in the ultimate intrusion of the nanny state, it has emerged. Dr Eileen Munro, an expert in child protection at the LSE, said: 'The authority of parents is being eroded because the children's services, health education and social care are being asked to intervene. Civil liberties and children campaigners are to hold a conference at the LSE to voice their concerns.'

BBC News Website
Concerns over new child database (27 June 06)
The planned national child database will erode the right of parents to look after their own families, civil liberties groups have claimed. Liberty, ARCH and other campaigners will raise their concerns at a conference on Tuesday at the London School of Economics.

Le Figaro
Tony Blair veut ficher les enfants dès leur naissance (27 June 06)
LE PAYS est en train de passer d'un système fondé sur la liberté des parents d'élever leurs enfants - pour autant qu'ils ne soient ni négligents ni violents - à un système coercitif décrété par un Etat qui prétend savoir mieux qu'eux ce qu'il convient de faire.» Eileen Munro, professeur de politique sociale à la London School of Economics (LES), experte de la protection de l'enfance, ne décolère pas.

Daily Telegraph
Family life faces State 'invasion' (26 June 06)
Government surveillance of all children, including information on whether they eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, will be condemned tomorrow as a Big Brother system. Dr Eileen Munro, of the LSE, said that if a child caused concern by failing to make progress towards state targets, detailed information would be gathered. "The country is moving from 'parents are free to bring children up as they think best as long as they are not abusive or neglectful' to a more coercive 'parents must bring children up to conform to the state's views of what is best'."

posted 26 June 2006