Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Good Childhood Enquiry recommendations

Lots of material being published by the Childrens Society around its Good Childhood Enquiry report, far too much to summarise or comment on at the moment.

Here's their summary:

Most of the obstacles children face today are linked to the belief among adults that the prime duty of the individual is to make the most of their own life, rather than contribute to the good of others. The inquiry report, A Good Childhood, says excessive individualism is causing a range of problems for children including: high family break-up, teenage unkindness, commercial pressures towards premature sexualisation, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and acceptance of income inequality.

The report says that although freedom and self-determination bring many blessings, the balance has tilted too far towards individualism in Britain.

Good summary of what makes for a happy childhood in this document, helpful BBC report here, and here's their list of the reports recommendations:

Parents should:

  • Make a long term commitment to each other.
  • Be fully informed about what is involved before their child is born.
  • Love their children, each other and establish boundaries for children. .
  • Help children develop spiritual qualities.

Teachers should

  • Help children to develop happy, likeable social personalities.
  • Base discipline on mutual respect.
  • Eliminate physical and psychological violence from school.
  • Make Personal, Social and Health Education statutory.
  • Present sex and relationships education not as biology but part of social and emotional learning.
  • New tests on emotional and behavioural well being should be carefully piloted.

Government should:

  • Introduce non religious, free civil birth ceremonies.
  • Offer high quality parenting classes, psychological support and adolescent mental health services throughout the country.
  • Train at least 1,000 more highly qualified psychological therapists over the next five years.
  • Automatically assess the mental health of children entering local authority care or custody.
  • Raise the pay and status of all people who work with children including teachers and child care workers.
  • Give a salary supplement to teachers taking jobs in deprived areas.
  • Replace all SATS tests with an annual assessment designed mainly to guide a child’s learning.
  • Stop publishing data on individual schools from which league tables are constructed by the media.
  • Start a major campaign to persuade employers to offer apprenticeships.
  • Build a high quality youth centre for every 5,000 young people.
  • Ban all building on sports fields and open spaces where children play.
  • Ban firms from advertising to British children under 12.
  • Ban adverts for alcohol or unhealthy food on television before 9 pm.
  • Reduce the proportion of children in relative poverty from 22% to under 10% by 2015.

The media should:

  • Rethink the amount of violence they put out, the unbalanced impression they give of the risks that children face from strangers and the exaggerated picture they portray of young people threatening our social stability.

Advertisers should

  • Stop encouraging premature sexualisation, heavy drinking and overeating

All Society should:

  • Take a more positive attitude to children. Welcome them into society and help them.


- interesting to see the proposal for a secular alternative to baptism. Registering the baby's name is a rite of passage of sorts, but not a public one. It would be interesting to read the rationale behind this.

- It's not just advertisers who are responsible for sexualisation, it's also the media, what passes as normal in pop videos and celebrity behaviour/dress, it's a whole culture thing. I'm no great fan of advertisers, but this is not just about them.

- the report pulls no punches in talking about the effect of family breakdown on the wellbeing of children, hence the first line in the recommendations, and proposals for marriage preparation resources. This is uncomfortable stuff, very few people set out to be single parents (spoke to one single mum this morning whose partner had had an affair), but how can we help to make it less likely that folk will end up that way? Our marriage prep course starts today (update: or would have done if it weren't for the snow!), so I'm going to mention this report to put what we're doing in a church hall in Yeovil into a bigger perspective.

Today all the local schools were closed, and there were young children out sledging and building snowmen with their parents. I know of one dad who took the day off work because he wanted to play with his kids (we don't get much snow round here normally). Great day to be a child, or - for adults - to behave like one.

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