The importance of trust
It's not often that I get an invited to a sleepover, particularly from a three-year-old, but it's always nice to receive an invitation. I was at a friend's house and found myself in the company of their three-year-old son who had chickenpox.
I was happy to provide respite for his mum and sit and watch Toy Story 2 followed by a game with toy cars involving very complex rules that only three-year-old boys understand. It was without preamble that the invitation came, 'would you like to come to a sleepover next week?'
I wasn't sure if the invitation was just for me or if there would be others involved and what his mum would think of the idea, but there was something so endearing and refreshing about the invitation.
It is the innocence and acceptance of children that we delight in, that we recognise as an essential part of childhood. They have the ability and desire to relate to people and accept them at face value.
Good Childhood Inquiry
As we deliver our Good Childhood Conversations around the country we hear so often the concerns of adults that childhood innocence is being eroded and that we should find ways of preserving those experiences of childhood that we value. But that does place an enormous responsibility on adults.
In our Good Childhood Inquiry report the phrase used was that children are a 'sacred trust'. They trust us to ensure their well-being and safety. For some children and young people it is that innocence and desire to see the best in people that makes them vulnerable.
In our work with young runaways we know that most young people who runaway will return home without further serious mishap. But out of the 100,000 who run away each year there is a minority who face extreme risk as they repeatedly go missing or find themselves without the support or an option to return home.
For these children and young people the acceptance of adults and the innocence that we value in childhood makes them extremely vulnerable to adults who do not hold them in sacred trust. At The Children's Society we have made it our business to look out for the most vulnerable of young people and let them see that there are adults they can trust.