Children of Exception: Redefining Categories of Illegality and Citizenship in Canada

Meloni, F.; Rousseau, C.; Montgomery, C.; Measham, T. (2013)

Children & Society


This article examines legal discourses on precarious status children in Canada over the last decade. Drawing on different theoretical frameworks and taking into account laws and court decisions, the paper will examine the way in which precarious status children are regarded as powerless subjects in need of protection and as threatening others. The article argues that these two apparently contrasting discourses are embedded within specific socio-historical constructions of childhood and children’s citizenship which deny and limit their agency and conceive of their claim to membership as illegitimate. In the case of precarious status children, illegality and citizenship need to be redefined in a developmental perspective, questioning the potential risks associated with prevalent moral and social assumptions on childhood.