Child-rearing inc.: On the perils of political paralysis down under

Educational Philosophy and Theory 40 (6):739-746 (2008)
Abstract
In his 2007 PESA keynote address, Paul Smeyers discussed the increasing regulation of child-rearing through government intervention and the generation of 'experts', citing particular examples from Europe where cases of childhood obesity and parental neglect have stirred public opinion and political debate. In his paper ('Child-Rearing: On government intervention and the discourse of experts', this issue), Smeyers touches on a number of tensions before concluding that child-rearing qualifies as a practice in which liberal governments should be reluctant to intervene. In response, I draw on recent experiences in Australia and argue that certain tragic events of late are the result of an ethical, moral and social vacuum in which these tensions coalesce. While I agree with Smeyers that governments should be reluctant to 'intervene' in the private domain of the family, I argue that there is a difference between intervention and support. In concluding, I maintain that if certain Western liberal democracies did a more comprehensive job of supporting children and their families through active social investment in primary school education, then schools would be better equipped to deal with the challenges they now face.
Keywords investment in education  child protection  social inclusion  primary education
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