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Cuts could enhance joint working

The party conference season is over and national politics is destined for a surreal few months in the run-up to the general election. Expect plenty more short-term children's policy announcements - some even eye- catching - as the main parties try to outmanoeuvre each other to strike a popular chord. Politics in Westminster will become increasingly sensationalised and polarised.

Focus of spending must be balanced

It's official: the UK spends more money on child welfare and education than the average market economy. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report out last week, we spend just over 90,000 per child from birth to 18 compared to an OECD average among 30 member countries of just under 80,000.

The next commissioner needs bite

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has fired the starting gun to recruit a children's commissioner for England to succeed Sir Al Aynsley-Green early next year.

Wild wastelands should be scenes of fun

The swathes of land that were once the industrial heartlands of Britain, now reclaimed by nature, offer a fantastic adventure playground for children and young people. The communities that grew up surrounded by coal and steel now have wild parklands on their doorstep.

Wounds still healing in Northern Ireland

The Real IRA and the Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for the recent murders of soldiers and a police officer in Northern Ireland. But as they are perceived to be destabilising the peace settlement, it is important to hold on to the phenomenal progress that has been made in the province since the darkest days of the Troubles.

Will sanctions or support ward off trouble?

One element of the "triple track" response in the new Youth Taskforce Action Plan is the idea of non-negotiable support. Some will immediately baulk at the concept: surely support has to be wanted to be effective?

Commissioner for Wales is up to the challenge

It was an "exceedingly drawn-out" appointments process, according to one Welsh politician. But Keith Towler came through the interviews, both with young people and politicians, to secure the position of children's commissioner for Wales, just under a year after the untimely death of his predecessor Peter Clarke.

The amoral panic surrounding juvenile crime

The conviction of three young people in mid-January for the awful murder of Garry Newlove was followed by a moving and poignant plea from his widow Helen for society to reclaim the streets from violent and yobbish youth.

The beautiful game has started to turn ugly

In one of the first discussions on youthful antisocial behaviour during the 1990s, I noted in a speech that most of the lads' magazines tended to be preoccupied with half-naked women and bad-boy footballers.

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