Children need friends. They need to have the support and freedom to develop friendships and learn from them. There is a need right across society to give greater positive recognition of the importance of these relationships in childhood. Children need to be allowed the freedom and space to explore their environment, gather with friends and develop friendships independent of adult supervision.
Evidence does suggest that media reporting does heighten the fear and worry parents experience about allowing children to go out unsupervised. It is important to put these into perspective and recognise the real risks to children. Statistically the risks of murder or abduction are incredibly low.
Interestingly, though parents are much less worried about health risks and the risk of accidents in the home, both of which statistically pose a much greater risk to children.
Young people’s decisions about sexual relations are more likely to be influenced by the behaviour and attitudes of adults and other young people around them than by commercial pressures. But we know that advertising influences children. It seems quite likely that messages about sex and sexuality conveyed in the media influence children’s aspirations and choices in similar ways.
The Children's Society helps children to take a critical approach to what they see, hear and read in the media.
We wish to affirm our belief that marriage is one of the fundamental building blocks of society and family life. But we must also recognise that this is not the experience of a significant number of children and young people. Many of the young people with whom The Children's Society works live in a wide variety of family situations. Some have a very positive family experience and some a negative family experience.
As a Christian organisation, we would wish to be respectful of the experience of these children and young people and the realities of their lives and family structures.