Have just read JuliaM's thoughts on Edlington and social "care" in general; having landed in a part time job in a field not a hundred miles from social services I find this needs some comment from what I hope is a libertarian perspective.
Most libertarians I know are naturally predisposed to black and white rules applied across everyone; they (I) surmise (normally rightly) that greying the rules normally leads to plenty of areas for those with a collectivist mindset to hide, grow and cause damage.
As involved with children, with youth groups and my church as I am I have to say I agree with this supposition; lives may not be black and white but the rules governing them can be- hence I have often advocated that the best way to apply social care is to see it for what it is: a mix or choice between criminal and health concerns best left to the police and judicial services and/or a minimised health service designed to deal with crisis, emergency an long term care.
What the current situation illustrates is that the focus on individual rights, which ultimately are un-upholdable in the long term (the right to moneys unearned, healthcare etc), has led to ignoring the responsibilities these people needed to keep; to their kids, to society (i.e. not causing misery through criminal action) and so on.
I don't think the present setup is recoverable; we have children who come to our youth group from incredibly deprived backgrounds who, despite enduring horrifying things, are starting to go on the mend (if such a thing is possible) but such groups as ours are not only few but are actively thwarted by those in authority; fot example, it is hard to justify multiple-million pound budgets for drug rehabilitation when a bunch of volunteers and real compassion can achieve better results; best to constrain them in the hope if looking less bad.
Hence I propose this short-term solution, with an explanation that, though doesn't make it hold water against the libertarian ideal for individual freedom, at least explains a radical idea and compromise based on the following precepts:
1. We are paying untold benefits to people to behave like scum.
2. Scum are having children who in turn stand a good chance of not breaking the mold.
3. Biotechnology and fertility technology is advancing at a substantially fast enough pace to enable all sort of people previously unable to conceive to conceive, and for tissue samples to be preserved.
Hence my idea, the nuclear option if you will, to the problem of feral children and parents is thus: a precondition to remaining on long term benefits (say longer than a year) of any kind is the forfeit of your "right" to have children, implemented by chemical sterilisation with storage of egg/sperm/reproductive tissue prior to this. These rights would then be "restored" by the free provision of reproductive health consults and artificial insemination when they can present a "co-gaurantour" who will part fund that child's upbringing; forfeit of reproductive rights would be immeadiately compulsory to first time single mothers applying for child benefit, though the benefit would be higher than it is now (the extra perhaps being specifically proscribed in it's use).
This I aware is incredibly autocratic and as unlibertarian as it comes, but consider the following:
1. You have a right to children but their welfare is your responsibility: the welfare state has created a state of affairs where children are little more than currency, to be exchanged for beer, fags and a free house- this is only possible whilst the taxpayers agrees to this gouging.
2. is the alternative- unmitigated access to having children with no individual responsibily working out?: all the evidence of remedial care from social services indicates no to me, compounded by the states numerous attempts to undermine private initiative.
3. Am I likely to be the first person to think this?: and is it likely the righteous in a position of power thinking along the same lines might omit to give them the option of children later on?
The present situation is untenable for another generation; with 1 in 4 (myself included) receiving one benefit or another and 1 in 6 children living in a household with noone working on more generation will push the strain beyond what the productive part of the economy can handle and it will up sticks and move to a more grateful and productive nation. This is still a reality even with such radical ideas- it would be irresponsible to continue supporting the production of children to parents who are unwilling to support under their own steam if at all, as is being aptly demonstrated of late.