8 Sep 2006

Nation Urged To Join UK's First Inquiry on Childhood

18 September 2006

The Children's Society launches the UK's first independent national inquiry into childhood today (Monday 18 September) with a call for evidence amid increasing concerns about the state of modern childhood.

The patron of The Good Childhood Inquiry, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury is urging children, young people and the general public to join the inquiry by contributing their views on what makes for a good childhood in today's society. Evidence can be submitted on a secure site www.goodchildhood.org.uk or by post to The Children's Society1.

The inquiry is chaired by Professor Judith Dunn, the eminent child development psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, author of Children's friendships: the beginning of intimacy.

The inquiry's panel includes Lord Layard, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics and author of Happiness; Professor Sir Albert-Aynsley Green, the Children's Commissioner; and The Rt. Revd. Bishop Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester and Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Children's Society. Further panel members will be recruited in the coming weeks to finalise the 12-member panel.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, said: "I urge all those interested in the health and happiness of our young people to contribute their ideas. The Good Childhood Inquiry provides a rare opportunity to see the world from a child's perspective to value children for who they are and to shape a new vision of childhood for society as a whole."

Lord Layard said: "Childhood is under great scrutiny by politicians, the media, and the public in general. Much of the debate is conducted in an atmosphere critical to children without addressing the question of why children themselves are unhappy. We need to take a fresh look at the world around us and ask ourselves what we need to do to create a good childhood and use that as our starting point."

Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children's Society said: "There is clearly a mood in the UK that as a society we have got some important things wrong about childhood. We need to turn this into positive action. The Good Childhood Inquiry is a chance for everyone to share in creating a new vision for childhood for the 21st century by contributing to the inquiry. We need the views of everyone across all generations, skills and disciplines. And we need to start with the views of children."

Research conducted with 8,000 young people2 for the launch of the inquiry challenges assumptions that today's youth are only interested in material possessions. The two most commonly mentioned words used when asked about a good childhood were family and friends. Young people's comments emphasised topics such as the "importance of being loved and supported" and "being treated with fairness and respect by others". This research, released today, is available from www.goodchildhood.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

Please contact Valery Appadoo or Zoe Mason, The Children's Society Media Office on tel: 020 7841 4422 or va@childsoc.org.uk

1. The Children's Society, Edward Rudolf House, Margery Street, London WC1X 0JL
2. Good Childhood? A Question for our times; 2006, The Children's Society. Full report available from www.goodchildhood.org.uk
3. The Children's Society is a national children's charity working with over 50,000 children and teenagers every year, in 60 projects around the country. It works in partnership with communities, schools and families. It helps: children at risk on the streets; children in trouble with the law; young refugees; and disabled children. It is a voluntary organisation of the Church of England.
4. The call for evidence runs until 13 November and will be followed by a series of Inquiry panel meetings addressing themes of family, health, friends, values, lifestyle and learning. The participation of children and young people forms a central part of the Inquiry and their views will be reflected in the Inquiry's findings, which will be published in Autumn 2008.