On Innocence Lost: How Children Are Made Dangerous


This article explores continuities of despotism within liberal governance. It introduces recent government investments in the need to protect children from institutional and organisational abuse in the context of which loss of innocence is conceptualised as a moment in a biography, following exposure to violence. The article contrasts those investments with contemporaneous claims by the state that as other-than-innocent, certain children in its care are legitimately exempted from moral-ethical norms embedded elsewhere in the logic of governing childhood proper. The article turns to historical understandings of the welfare of children in the state of Victoria, Australia, to explore the conditions and the means by which children in state care came to be figured as other-than-innocent exceptions, rightly exposed to forms of authoritarian violence. Loss of innocence is explored as an enduring achievement of government in the context of aspirations to do with population, territory and national security.

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Published: 2018-11-19
Pages:148 to 164
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How to Cite
Laurence, J. and McCallum, D. (2018) “On Innocence Lost: How Children Are Made Dangerous”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 7(4), pp. 148-164. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v7i4.930.

Author Biographies

Victoria University Melbourne

Jennifer Laurence is a research associate at the Centre for International Research on Education Systems, Victoria University, Melbourne.

Victoria University, Melbourne

David McCallum is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Victoria University in Melbourne. His recent book is titled 'Criminalizing Children. Welfare and the State in Australia', published by Cambridge University Press, 2017.