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Children's Rights, Confidentiality and the Policing of Children

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image of The International Journal of Children's Rights

This article considers particular provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the Children Act 2004 in order to advance the argument that despite having ratified the UNCRC, and thereby endorsing the idea of consulting with children and promoting their participation, current policy in England and Wales is still locked within a discourse which sees children either as victims or threats. These discourses of risk operate to undermine and deny children's citizenship claims and to justify an intensification of the policing of children's lives – and thus their families, friends and communities. The article provides a short history of children's rights to set the scene for a critical evaluation of this legislation and then considers key provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and associated protocols on sexually active young people and how this links with the reconfiguration of child welfare practice heralded by the Children Act 2004. By way of conclusion it poses some critical questions with regard to these shifts in law and regulatory practice and highlights the increasing tension between professionals' commitment to children's rights, including the ‘right’ to confidentiality, and the trajectory of government policies impacting on children and families.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Health and Social Care, The Open University, UK


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