All-in or left out?

3rd November 2006 at 00:00
What a wonderful world it would be if all children were locked away until they were fit to mix with adults. Children are noisy, smelly, threatening and disruptive - and every other one is a hoodie. North Korea has one solution: gulags in which to confine misfit children and prevent them passing on their genes through procreation. A bit extreme, perhaps, but one gets the point.

Tony Blair recently welcomed the idea of merging schools, libraries and gyms and having all-purpose, bright and airy shared community enterprises.

Unfortunately, middle-Englanders don't share his enthusiasm. Middle-aged and cautious, the population that has "become fearful of children" - as the Institute for Public Policy Research pointed out last week - does not want them despoiling the serene bookshelves of their libraries.

They have a point if, as they assert, the reforms are just about cost-cutting and would leave children vulnerable to abuse. But isn't there a danger that Britain's already ostracised youth will feel more alienated than ever?

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