Posted: 14 September 2011

Unicef report on UK children's well-being doesn't go far enough

The views and feelings of a country’s children provide a powerful reflection of the state of any nation so today’s Unicef report must be given serious consideration.

The report about children's well-being in the UK highlights critical issues for everybody to consider, not just politicians but also parents.

We believe the report could have gone even further.

Children want time with their families

Our research into children’s views of their own well-being shows again and again that what children want is time with their families. We need to tackle the pressure that parents in this country feel to buy material goods for their children, and educate parents so they know what their children want and need.

We also need policies that make it easier for parents to spend time with their children. Six out of ten parents we spoke to as part of our Good Childhood Inquiry two years ago said that they don’t get enough time to spend with their children, while almost half of those questioned said that they had to put their career first -- even if it affected their family life.

Income influences well-being

This does not mean income is not important. It is – for both children and parents.

For parents, the pressures of poverty and deprivation can make it harder to be a good parent. The cuts that we have seen and the upcoming reforms to benefits will make this even more difficult.

There is also a clear link between poverty and lower well-being for children. Our research shows that children whose family income has decreased are more than twice as likely to have low well-being than those whose family income has increased.

It is imperative that we listen to young people

Children have also told us that the amount of choice they have is important in determining their well-being. This means that we need to actively support children so they can make informed decisions.

Children's opinions need to be taken seriously by decision makers at all levels of government, particularly those of vulnerable children who feel most excluded from their communities. And critically their rights, as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child must be taken seriously.

We want to see children’s well-being – and improving it – become a priority outcome for national and local government. To achieve this, it is imperative that we listen to what children and young people tell us about what’s important to them.

By Enver Solomon, Policy Director at The Children's Society

By Enver Solomon - Policy team

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