21st Kilbrandon Lecture

Scraton, Phil (2024) 21st Kilbrandon Lecture. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 23 (1). pp. 189-220. ISSN 1478-1840

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It is more than 25 years since publication of ‘Childhood’ in ‘Crisis,’? (Scraton, 1997), a collection of essays written by members of the Young People, Power and Justice Research Group, formed following the killing of James Bulger in Liverpool. The trial in an adult court of two 10-year-old children, convicted of murder and publicly named, created an unprecedented and vitriolic reaction in the media and from politicians of all parties. The text mapped the negative impact on legislation, state policies and professional practice. In the wake of moral panics regarding escalating crime, ‘no-go’ areas and a rising ‘underclass’, a rare case was portrayed as the extreme end of a continuum of children’s aberrant behaviour and parental neglect. Derived in recent research and activism in the North of Ireland, this lecture adopts a critical analysis to critique the continued regulation and criminalisation of children and young people, particularly those defined ‘troublesome’. It challenges their persistent marginalisation and denial of meaningful participation. It calls for policies and practices which: contest negative assumptions and stereotypes; address socio-economic inequalities; prioritise the lived experiences and views of children and young people; and create hope through opportunity.

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