Parton, Nigel (2008) Safeguarding Childhood: Early Intervention and Surveillance in a Late Modern Society. In: Children, Youth, and Social Control in Transformation Conference, 9th - 10th October 2008, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland. (Unpublished)

Following the Children Act 2004 and the launch of the ‘Every Child Matters: Change for
Children’ programme, England has embarked on the most ambitious changes in children’s
services for over a generation. While the government presented the changes as a response to
the Laming Report into the death of Victoria Climbié, they are much more than this. They
build on a number of ideas and policies which had been developed over a number of years,
which emphasise the importance of intervening in children’s lives at an early stage in order
to prevent problems in later life. This paper provides a critical analysis of the assumptions
which underpin the changes and argues that the relationships between parents, children,
professionals and the state, and their respective responsibilities, are being reconfigured as a result, and that the priority given to the accumulation, monitoring and exchange of electronic information has taken on a central significance. What we are witnessing is the emergence of the ‘preventive-surveillance’ state, where the role of the state is becoming broader, more interventive and regulatory at the same time.

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