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Over recent years there has been a crescendo of political and public concern about a variety of issues which taken together suggest an impending crisis in our society. These include a rising incidence of *crime, violence, and delinquency and an ever increasing prison population, together with concern about deteriorating discipline in many schools. In addition there is increasing evidence that family breakdown through parental separation, divorce, or single parenthood has deleterious effects on the lives of children.1 Drug addiction and homelessness are increasing, as is the number of children living in conditions of poverty.2 There remains a continued background of concern about the high incidence of child abuse and neglect in all its forms, and confusion about society’s apparent failure to manage it effectively.3 (*Recorded crimes per year rose from l.6 million offences recorded by police in l970 to 5.6 million in l992; the figure for total crimes in l992 is estimated at about 15 million pa.)
Over the last 10 years society has had to face the following dramatic examples that have each in their separate ways symbolised some form of failure in society: (a) The death of Jamie Bulger at the hands of two 10 year old boys; (b) the murder and abuse of many children carried out over a long period of time by Fred and Rosemary West; (c) the Dunblane massacre; (d) the stabbing of the headmaster Philip Lawrence outside his school, and his wife’s call for a national revival of morality; and (e) the apparently racist killing of Stephen Lawrence.
All these dramatic examples have increased the sense of crisis in society. Unfortunately in none of the above cases has there been a proper analysis of the lessons that can be learnt for the good of society.
The response of politicians of …