This week saw the introduction of new legislation in the UK allowing parents to request the cancellation of their children’s passports, if they have reason to believe they might go overseas to join terror groups. A few days earlier, a solo 16 year-old was barred from boarding a flight to Portugal, for fear that the abduction risk would be too high after the Madeleine McCann case in 2007.

While the reasons behind each case are different, the incidences raise important questions over age, ideology and mobility in the contemporary era. In particular, how do societies make decisions governing the behaviours acceptable at different stages of life and what measures are necessary to enforce these decisions?

PPE and HSPS applicants might want to consider these questions and further debates they might spur; does the UK government have a right control the mobility of persons who can already legally marry or join the armed forces? Is the restriction of even adults’ mobility to countries such as Iraq and Syria justifiable on the pre-emptive logic that currently underpins it?

With flows of people, information and goods moving faster, further and with greater ease than ever before, governments face a growing number of opportunities as well as risks that need to be thoroughly deliberated.

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