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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Spotting criminals from the age of three
Good habits - and bad - set in early, experts say
Children as young as three should be monitored to try to identify and help those who could become the criminals of tomorrow, the Home Secretary has said.

He said monitoring of children could lead to the identification of those who might later join gangs and turn to crime.

Mr Blunkett told a parenting conference in London early intervention was crucial.

Hectoring parents

"We have got to provide support at the point where it can be most effective.

"We have got to be able to pick up on the behavioural reactions of children very quickly, from the moment the child enters nursery education.

"Universal nursery provision makes that possible more quickly.

"We need not to pass the buck to the schools to do it, but to join together in the strength of the community to be able to provide that backing and that intervention early."

Mr Blunkett told the Parent Child 2002 conference, organised by the National Family and Parenting Institute, that although governments did not want to "hector" parents on how to bring up their children, it was vital to intervene in dysfunctional families.

Early intervention

"The reality is that in many of our housing estates in many of our disadvantaged communities, a handful of those whose lifestyles and behaviour so disrupt the wellbeing of others are creating havoc," he said.

"About half a dozen families may develop a style of behaviour where their children learn to be opinion formers in the gangs that are evident in our streets, where the lack of decent, acceptable role models leads them not to understand the difference between right and wrong."

He said it made more sense for society to intervene when children were at a young age rather than just pick up the pieces.

See also:

16 Apr 02 | Education
Police 'not patrolling playgrounds'
16 Apr 02 | UK
Parents 'need more help'
28 Feb 02 | Education
Fathers can raise school results
25 Mar 02 | Education
Q & A: Parenting orders
09 Jul 01 | Features
Learning to be better parents
16 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Giving parents skills to take control
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