Lifestyle encompasses a whole range of childhood issues including the ways in which children are involved in making choices about their own interests and hobbies and how they spend their time.
Children and young people need to be encouraged and supported to experience and explore the fullest range possible of activities and interests.
Fun and play are fundamental to children's health and development and it is vital that the time, space, priority and resources are given over to ensuring that children have opportunities for play and leisure.
There is a real need to ensure a good balance between protecting children on the one hand and allowing the freedom to play and explore their environment on the other.
As children grow we must support and empower them to respect, value and take good care of their bodies and minds and to seek help and advice to help them do so. This includes a commitment to actively protect children and young people from the damaging and risky effects of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
The Children's Society recognises that old and new media technologies and the internet offer a range of extraordinary learning and global networking opportunities. We also recognise that these opportunities come accompanied by risks, and that there is a great deal of legitimate concern and fear amongst parents and other adults about children’s access because of this. Just as in matters of play and the physical freedom to explore the world, The Children's Society believes that adults need to strike a healthy balance in relation to children’s access to media and online communities. The Children’s Society is greatly supportive of the conclusions and recommendations of the Byron Review to achieve this balance.
The Children’s Society aspires to see a balanced approach towards children’s involvement in and exposure to the consumer world. Setting the potential benefits and opportunities in a context of ensuring safeguards against the intrusive and pressurising impact of pervasive advertising - especially when it targets young children and 'pester power' as a tool for increasing sales.
Equally important is the need to help children and young people develop a critical understanding of what they see, hear and read in the media, including advertising that targets them.
A range of measures is required to address excessive drinking by people of all ages. Evidence suggests that an increase in price is one of the most effective ways of doing so. Clearly this recommendation would need to be combined with other measures and address the root causes of excessive drinking.
The call for a review of drug policy is necessary. This review should not only take into account the effect of the drugs themselves but also the adverse effects of the drug trade on the lives of children and young people.
Harm is caused not only directly by the consumption of these substances but also by the fact that the drugs trade is a major cause of crime, including violent crime. The drugs trade damages the lives of many children and young people, and many of them don’t take drugs themselves. Though the consumption of drugs by children and young people appears to be slowly declining, they remain at risk from crime related to the drug trade which itself is showing no signs of decline.