Interview with Criminology Research Center Deputy Director
Considering the Future State of Society through Issues Raised by Children’s Cafeterias
Prof. Kayoko KUROKAWA
Professor, Department of Social Welfare, Ryukoku University Junior College; Deputy Center Director; Member, Socio-legal Studies Unit, Criminology Research Center
Conducts research into social welfare studies. Research topic is the development of practice models for bereavement support.
Examining the Social Function of Children’s Cafeterias
Since my specialty is in social welfare studies, I want to aid research activities across the entire Center through engagement from a social welfare studies perspective. Social welfare studies as an academic discipline examines what it is for people to have well-being and what kind of social infrastructure, including technology, regulatory policy, and welfare, is needed to support them.
Providing support for the socially vulnerable such as children, people with disabilities, and elderly people, poses an especially large number of challenges. This is why my research is now focused on children’s cafeterias.* We live in a period when one in seven Japanese children live in poverty. Child poverty is not just an issue for the individual child but presents a problem for the society around them. Data shows that children who grow up in poverty tend to have lower rates of educational advancement. When lower rates of educational advancement present a hurdle to finding employment, poverty can persist for generations. Children have no choice in the environment they are born into. When lingering poverty robs children of hopes and dreams regardless of hardworking parents, what role can children’s cafeterias play in creating children’s spaces and fostering healthy development? This was the motivation behind starting my research.
* Children’s cafeterias: A social service in Japan that provides good food and warm company either free-of-charge or at low cost to children, parents, and others in the community.
Thinking about Care and the Various Losses of Society
I have studied bereavement care for many years. Just as the bereaved lose someone important to them, a society that needs children’s cafeterias can also be described as having lost many things. For example, loss of community, loss of a safe family environment, and loss of people who eat meals together. People need places where they are needed and where they belong. The loss of places to belong leads to a loss of self-esteem and self-worth. We cannot deny the potential effect of these losses on delinquency and crime. In terms of the “compassionate” criminology advanced by the Criminology Research Center, I plan to study these matters from a social welfare perspective and the perspective of loss in particular.