Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Parenting Centres will fail like Sure Start

Yesterday evening, Iain posted about the Government's plans to introduce parenting centres. Iain has come under a bit of flak from some in his comments for using the Mail as the source for the story, but interestingly (and atypical of any discussion online really), the critics, sych as Bob Piper, have gone after the source not the underlying story.

If one takes a moment to avoid the Sixth From debating though, there is actually something deeply concerning about the policy in general (which was reported by the BBC yesterday as well). Take first, for example, the comment made by Beverly Hughes to the BBC, she said,
"It is now clear that what parents actually do has a huge impact on children's well-being and capacity to succeed, both at the time and in future."
Now clear? Without wishing to sound glib, I'm wondering whether Hughes should perhaps be the Minister for Stating the Bleeding Obvious. The problem here is that the underlying assumption to what is, in fairness, an utterly absurd comment, is that somehow more is known today about what is "good" and what is "bad" in parenting. The logical conclusion therefore is that all parenting before now has been carried out in a state of partial or complete ignorance.

The second area of concern here is the one whch relates directly to state interference. The issue is not about compulsion so much as success though. As has been made clear by the Prime Minister himself, and by countless researchers, Sure Start, for example, has been a failure precisely because it's been felt as intrusive by those social groups it intended to target. These are, going on the basis, the same social groups that so parenting lessons, are going to target. That is clear from Beverly Hughes' comments about "children's outcomes".

Whilst the element of compulsion implied by the Mail, and reported by Iain is unlikely to be there, Iain's summary headline about the policy being "half baked" actually hits the nail right on the head. The policy makes blatent invalid assumptions about parenting in general and the past, and is actually likely to be rejected by those that it is designed to help because of feeling of state interference and nannying just like Sure Start.

typos will be fixed in the next hour - off to catch a train


Benedict White said...

The time to teach parenting skils is in Home economics.

Bit non PC though that isn't it?

truelateral said...

Even if you drag the target parents to parenting classes, how can you force them to apply what they are taught? The whole idea is ludicrous.

Anyone can be a parent, and that includes some pretty horrible people. There isn't really anything we can do about this! Provide support for those who want it, and promote a climate where advice on parenting isn't seen as some kind of middle-class values brainwash (how? I don't know). Keep an eye on the kids and support the family to improve behaviour etc... It all depends on how help is offered and how effective it is on small scales.

Or, my favourite solution: mandatory contraceptives and licence needed for the antidote. However if that had been the case I would never have been allowed to have my son!