Children’s rights to live free from exploitation will be debated in the next seminar focusing on children, well-being and social exclusion at Edge Hill University.

The University’s Social Policy and Social Justice Research Group has organised the programme and the second event of the series, In defence of Childhood: Against the Neo-Liberal Assault on Social Life, ison Tuesday 5th April.

Within childhood studies, and much modern sociology, proponents of children’s rights often proclaim their commitment to liberating children from childhood. But does liberating children from childhood represent greater freedom for children, or greater freedom to be exploited?

In his lecture guest speaker Michael Lavalette, Associate Professor of Social Work at Liverpool Hope University and National Co-ordinator of the Social Work Action Network, will consider these issues and argue that children’s rights to live free from exploitation is not necessarily incompatible with their right to enjoy childhood.

Heexplained: “Childhood is viewed as a life stage that contains and restricts children, that symbolises their socially inferior position and that inhibits their ability to engage as social equals in a range of social, political and economic functions and activities. I will question whether liberating children from childhood means freedom for all children, or just some. I will also look at how inequality impacts on children’s lives and prospects.”

Keynote speaker Michael Lavalette is a member of the Socialist Workers Party and a local councillor in Preston. He is the co-ordinator of the local Stop the War Coalition and organised a solidarity day in Preston for victims of the Asian Tsunami. The Social Work Action Network that he is part of also ran a campaign defending social workers in the aftermath of the Baby P tragedy and, along with Iain Ferguson, he wrote a pamphlet called Social Work After Baby P that included significant contributions from academics, practitioners and senior trade union officers.

His recent publications include Radical Social Work Today and Social Work in Extremis. His book Voices from the West Bank: Palestinian young people speak out will be published later this year.

The free talk starts at 5pm on 5th April and takes place in SPS001 on the Ormskirk campus. All are welcome to attend.