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Managing Blame in an ASBO Nation: Parents’ explanations for their children’s offences Amanda Holt University of Brighton.

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Presentation on theme: "Managing Blame in an ASBO Nation: Parents’ explanations for their children’s offences Amanda Holt University of Brighton."— Presentation transcript:

1 Managing Blame in an ASBO Nation: Parents’ explanations for their children’s offences Amanda Holt University of Brighton

2 Aims Brief overview of Parenting Order policy and its inherent tensions Brief overview of my research questions & methodology Some early indicators: how do parents explain their child’s offences? Implications: for parents, their families and wider youth justice policies?

3 Parenting Orders Introduced in Crime & Disorder Act (1998) Usually issued alongside child/young person court orders Court has duty to issue them if child is under-16 (unless good reason) Recommended on PSR by YOT worker Conditions: attendance at parenting support & discretionary requirements Failure can result in conviction/fine (£1000 max) Variations in distribution

4 Tensions in policy Parenting Orders…or Mothering Orders? The dualistic nature of criminal responsibility Paternalism/authoritarianism v neo-liberal responsibilisation What is the role of the youth justice system: welfare or justice? Research Questions: - How do parents construct their experiences of the Parenting Order? - How is a parental identity constructed within these experiences?

5 Methodology Interviewed 17 parents who had been issued with a Parenting Order, recruited from 4 YOTs Parents at different stages of the youth justice process Narrative interviews: tell me what happened? Follow-up questionnaire for demographic data Discourse analytic approach: exploring constructions of parents’ experiences (pre-offence, offence, offender, police & court processes, parenting classes) and examining the implications for subjectivities and practices

6 Parents’ explanations of the offence Three explanatory frameworks: - Peer influence: the young person as vulnerable - Loss of education: the young person as unstimulated - Past family trauma/break-up: the young person as defensive

7 1) Peer influence: the young person as vulnerable The child got in with ‘the wrong crowd’, was ‘easily led’ and ‘one of the pack’ The ‘wrong crowd’ constitutes older children and, particularly in cases of school exclusions, excluded children Young boys constructed as at ‘that age’ where they are susceptible to peer influence, particularly when the peers are older. The parents of daughters did not mention peer influence, instead emphasising their daughter’s strong character as an explanation (‘she’s strong- willed’, ‘a wild child’)

8 Bee I do think that peer pressure has a lot to do with it, and I personally feel that when he was tagged, there was almost a bit of relief for Bobby [her son], because, you know on a Friday night he would endeavour to try and come in early because he has a Saturday job. But obviously, when you’re 16, Bobby is 6 foot tall with size 12 feet, he’s not your average- looking 16 year-old … ‘ahh you don’t go in mate, nah, don’t go in yet, you’ll be alright’ …so I think for him, its almost a feeling of relief, because now he has to say ‘there’s not staying out late about it, I’ve got to be in at 9 o’clock or the police’ll be at my door’

9 2) Loss of education: the young person as unstimulated In nine cases, their child had been excluded from school for some period Exclusions meant a lack of structure and stimulation, leading to boredom. Combined with the ‘thrill-seeking’ character of teenagers, this meant that they sought stimulation through illegitimate means Exclusion system blamed for segregating ‘good kids’ in school from excluded ‘bad kids’

10 Jayne & Mary Jayne: Because the school wouldn’t take him on, because they couldn’t cope with him. So he literally like just roamed the streets in the day, with the other kids that had been excluded or expelled or whatever… Mary: I just I think for Eric, it was an element of excitement, something to take him out of his boring, cos everyday for the last year, on and off, is the same for Eric. There’s no weekends, there’s no Sunday early nights cos of school or work, every day is the same.

11 Past family break-up/loss of father: the young person as defensive 12 of the parents were lone parents, and 4 of the mothers explicitly referred to past family break-up and the father’s absence as an explanation: the son was angry and their anger was channelled into offending (psychoanalytic model) 3 mothers explained offending in terms of (absent) father’s influence (e.g. child imitating Dad) Other past traumas located as the site for ‘going off the rails’: best friend’s death, mother hospitalised last year; birth of youngest child sidelined son

12 Susan He doesn’t see him…you know, and that could be a lot of his issues you know, with his behaviour, why he’s out and about and, there’s a lot of anger there. He doesn’t see his dad, and I have told the young offenders team you know, maybe they should try and do some work with him on that you know, I says you might get through, you might get tears, you might get anger, I says, but you will get something. Some response, you know so…what they’re going to do, I don’t know.

13 Implications? Striking lack of explicit structural explanations, despite the lack of capital experienced by these parents - instead they mobilise hegemonic psychological discourses (are sociological discourses no longer legitimate? Are they appropriated more subtly) What are the implications of appropriating and/or resisting these discourses: for subjectivity (experiences and identity) and practices?

14 Peter can you think of any other reasons or do you think it was, just, his friends kind of, leading him astray? Erm, no, I probably think that….some of it had to do with me as well. I think. I mean, you know, I mean, I’m not exactly blameless in this. Erm….when we moved down here, I had to work a lot and it did involve me staying out quite late working as well. I had two jobs, one at day and one at night. And, I hardly ever saw them and if they got into trouble then I dealt with it in the morning but normally it was just, brushed aside, basically. Er, they knew the punishment wouldn’t stick. If I grounded them, they knew that wouldn’t, that wouldn’t stick cos I was never in to see that they stayed in. So (laugh) erm, yeah, a lot of it, a lot of it was, I suppose was my fault as well.

15 Contact details Amanda Holt School of Applied Social Science, University of Brighton, Mayfield House, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9PH (01273)


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