Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We are betraying our children

The UK is bottom of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrial countries, a report by Unicef says today.

This comes as no surprise. Children are ignored, their views unlistened to, their needs unmet.

Instead children are subjected to a barrage of conflicting pressures from educational to commercial, while their parents ae encouraged to extend their teenage behaviour into middle age.

Their conceptions about their bodies are attacked by deskbound and sedentary activities on the one hand and commercially driven fashionistic images on the other.

At the same time they are given few opportunities to experience the joy of being in their bodies - through activities, physical work, play, sport - and affection.

Significantly, over half of UK children report that they can't trust their peers. This is scandalous - the worst of all the statistics. They are divided amongst themselves by the competitive nature of these pressures upon them, whether this is to be smart, dumb, aggressive or cool.

Do we ask children what they want and need and respond properly? Not nearly enough. Instead, we live in a society where the disparity in income between the poorest and richest creates envy, personal unhappiness, stress, and crime. The countries where the wealth gap is smallest have the best overall sense of wellbeing.

In short, our priorities are topsy turvy and we are betraying our children - despite all the New Labour 'interventions' and misguided 'nanny state'.

This is why I'm glad I moved out of London to this part of Wales to bring up the kids, and that they have been members of the Woodcraft Folk (misleading name, great ethos) all their lives.

It's a theme at the core of most of the books I plan to write for kids in the future because I feel so strongly about it.

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