Letter; Jack Straw's curfew starts too late

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The Independent Online
The problem with Jack Straw's proposal is that it doesn't go far enough ("Their bedtime, our business", 9 June). Of course we should be concerned about why young children are wandering the streets at 11pm. But, equally, we should be concerned about the many more who are hanging around with nothing to do after school closes.

We have shamefully neglected the needs of children and young teenagers for space, safety, affordable leisure, and creative and challenging activities, for years. We could start by developing after-school programmes in schools which will give every child a chance to shine or develop a new life-skill or leisure interest. Schools in the Education Extra network are offering clubs for everything from creative arts to karaoke, fly- fishing to fencing - with support from their local community. Raising motivation and participation works for parents as well as children.

A national strategy to help schools organise more and better after-school programmes will not compensate for neglectful parents or put a stop to juvenile crime, but it would signal a change in attitude to young people and their parents. It would recognise their needs and potential, and would create the foundations of a more active, responsible society.

Dr Kay Andrews

London E2

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