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‘And Justice for all? : Child poverty and Inequality of Opportunity’

Conference – UCLan Westlakes Campus. Friday 14th October 2016.

Friday 14th October saw UCLan Applied Policy Science Unit, Westlakes in collaboration with the West Cumbria Child Poverty Forum and the Samuel Lindow Foundation hold a one day conference in response to UNESCO International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  It is estimated that globally 1 billion children live in poverty: almost 4 million in the UK. The conference was fascinating and well attended, and addressed the factors which bear upon enduring and intergenerational poverty in contemporary society.  It drew upon local, national and international case studies with input from practitioners and scholars in law, education, social work, social exclusion, policy science and health and wellbeing.

The lively contributions addressed the causes, consequences and potential solutions: special attention was paid to the important potential of education in providing opportunities.  Since social context, the role of the state, and creating a more just and inclusive society were foci, my paper concentrated upon the potential crime reducing effects of education.  This is not because these are necessarily the most important, but because they are of crucial importance to policy makers.  Hence, I discussed recent US, UK and Swedish studies considering the effect of raising the school leaving age and academic attainment on criminal activity.

Many criminological works focus upon the reasons for feeling ‘excluded’ from education, and potential effects, for example, the creation of subcultures, differential association, lack of opportunity and social exclusion generally. However, this paper took a different focus – highlighting policy and economic benefits for not just the individual, but wider society, of educational involvement and attainment. The need for research and interventions to enable such attainment were highlighted.

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