1st Edition

Law, Drugs and the Politics of Childhood From Protection to Punishment

By Simon Flacks Copyright 2021
    180 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    180 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Debates about the regulation of drugs are inseparable from talk of children and the young. Yet how has this association come to be so strong, and why does it have so much explanatory, rhetorical and political force? The premise for this book is that the relationship between drugs and childhood merits more exploration beyond simply pointing out that children and drugs are both ‘things we tend to get worried about’. It asks what is at stake when legislators, lobbyists and decision-makers revert to claims about children in order to sustain a given legal or policy position. Beginning with a genealogy of the relationship between the discursive artefacts of ‘drugs’ and ‘childhood’, the book draws on Foucauldian methodologies to explore how childhood functions as a device in the biopolitical management of drug use(rs) and supply. In addition to analysing decriminalisation initiatives and sentencing measures, it (unusually) reaches beyond the criminal context to consider the significance of the ‘politics of childhood’ for law- and policymaking in the fields of family justice and education. It concludes by arguing that the currency of childhood and ‘youth’ is not reducible to rhetoric; it shapes the discursive entities of drugs and addiction and is one of the ways in which particular substances become socially, culturally and politically intelligible. At the same time, ‘drugs’ serve as a technology of child normalisation.

    The book will be essential reading for policymakers as well as researchers and students working in the areas of Criminal Justice, Law, Psychology and Sociology.


    1. Drugs and childhood: A genealogy

    2. Drug law reform and the politics of innocence

    3. The abject dealer: Criminal sentencing and child harm

    4. Mums on drugs: Family justice and child protection

    5. Drugs and school discipline



    Simon Flacks is Senior Lecturer, Department of Law, University of Westminster, UK.