Are child-friendly city approaches being used to push out poor families?

We saw this very interesting post on ‘child friendly’ cities on the ‘Re-thinking Childhood’ blog yesterday and it’s author, Tim Gill, has kindly given us permission to re-blog it. The post looks at how the theory of child-friendly cities, which is linked to children’s rights, has the potential to go astray when picked up by policy makers and practitioners with perhaps unitended consequences for poorer families. Readers may be interested as there is a strong case to be made for attempting to tackle poverty using a children’s rights perspective.

Rethinking Childhood

Rotterdam child-friendly city report coverRotterdam is one the few big cities that has taken seriously the goal of becoming more child-friendly. Its ambitious planning policies have been debated in the National Assembly for Wales (see this web page and the links from it for some English-language material). Its public space improvement projects have been lauded at international conferences (indeed in 2008 it hosted Child in the City, a leading global cross-disciplinary event). What is more, unlike some other Child-Friendly City initiatives, it focuses on hard outcomes that make a real difference in children’s lives – better parks, improved walking and cycling networks, wider pavements – and not just on participation processes that, however well-intentioned, may end up being idle wheels. I have visited Rotterdam and seen the impressive results at first-hand, and have promoted the city’s work in presentations. Yet according to one scholar, the city’s progressive stance hides a more sinister goal:…

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