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Disruptive toddlers to be treated as potential criminals, says report

London Times | June 13, 2005
By Greg Hurst

CHILDREN as young as three are to be singled out by nursery staff if they display aggressive behaviour or have a family background of criminality, according to a government report.
Children to be labeled 'criminal' by age 3

The study, leaked yesterday, proposed nursery staff should note children of three and four who bullied other children as deemed to be at risk of growing up to be criminals.

The proposal coincides with an announcement today by Ruth Kelly, the Minister for Education, of plans for schools to open from 8am to 6pm to offer a safe environment for latchkey children and to meet the demands of working parents. Schools and local authorities will be allocated £680 million by 2008 to fund childcare, breakfast clubs, and after-school sports and arts activities.

They will not be run by teachers but by voluntary groups or privately. Adult education will also be on offer.

The leaked report said that infants not “under control” by the age of three were four times more likely to be convicted of a criminal offence once they reached maturity, according to an account of the study.

It proposed early intervention in such children’s education, such as intensive support with their reading, speech, writing and social skills. The report also called for schools to be much tougher on bullying, truancy and excluded pupils.

The Home Office refused to discuss the report, but its conclusion was said to be that the Government’s efforts to tackle crime should be concentrated on children most at risk of offending, with an emphasis on bullies. It quoted research that found 85 per cent of juvenile criminals in young offender institutions had been bullies at school and proposed that bullies be treated as aggressors.

Such findings are sensitive because ministers have faced criticism that the Government’s policy of encouraging mothers, and especially single parents, to find work may have a damaging impact on their children’s upbringing. The Government’s aim is that every child under 14 should have access to clubs and activities before and after school.

”Wrap-around childcare” would not involve extra lessons, but offer instead activities such as language clubs, indoor rock-climbing, drama, visits to museums or first-aid courses. There would also be opportunities for apprentice-style training. Ms Kelly says in a prospectus setting out the plans: “Children will be better placed to achieve their full potential if they are in childcare that allows them to complete their homework, keep fit and healthy and have fun.”




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