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Universal and targeted armies wage war

I was asked the other day where I stood on striking the balance between universal and targeted provision in youth work. I smiled at the juxtaposition. Such a stark division has caused a lot of argument, heartache and grief at ideological and political levels, and in policy and practice. It allows for the drawing up of battle lines: on the one side, those advocating value for money and reaching those somehow objectively assessed as most "in need", on the other, those espousing open doors, thus enabling responsiveness to all forms of "need" as subjectively expressed.

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.

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?

Why should the young have to conform?

I have just read Helen Reddington's book The Lost Women of Rock Music, which traces what happened to the influx of female musicians who entered the business in the 1970s and early 80s.

Finally, youth sector receives a boost

Given that he spent seven years limbering up for the job in opposition, there was some relief when Tim Loughton was named as a children's minister in the coalition six months ago.

Who would gain from a licence?

At the tail end of the summer, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced that it had no plans to introduce occupational licences, including one for youth work.

Hidden costs of payment-by-results

We are in an age of austerity where outcomes are critical. So it is difficult to take issue in raw principle with the government's desire to commission more public services on a payment-by-results basis.

It's time to respect children's rights

You wait ages for one 20th anniversary, then three come along at once. We've just marked the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 1989 Children Act. And this week it is 20 years since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child came into existence.

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