This weekend’s headlines read as a catalogue of failure when it comes to looking after some of the most vulnerable. Story after story detail lack of courage by adults to intervene and provide adequate care or protection for children, leaving them exposed to risky environments.
Those that caught my eye include:
- Children drinking to get drunk and preloading
- Young children committing sexual crimes due to access to porn
- Mentally ill children locked in police cells instead of receiving urgent psychiatric care
- School children buying junk food instead of a school lunch (being discussed at the LGA conference today)
- Looked-after children with the highest number of “returns home” having the worst life chances
- Children under-achieving because of school bullying
No wonder research by Unicef rated the UK as bottom when it came to children’s quality of life. Common sense is no longer common as libertarian individualism rules and important regulation that is designed to protect children is dismissed as an infringement on freedom. We are leaving our children exposed, vulnerable and confused with shifting, inconsistent boundaries of which we should be ashamed. The government need to get a grip and could start by:
- introduce minimum pricing, invest in alcohol education and tackle lax advertising,
- insist on opt-in systems from Internet Service Providers for viewing porn,
- ensure sufficient provider capacity for children with mental illness,
- not interfere with councils wanting to protect school catchments from purveyors of junk food,
- promote adoption and
- convene a summit to tackle cyber-bullying.
This is all important but we lack a comprehensive understanding of what it means for a child to be ‘Fit-for-school’. So this is the theme for a new work-stream that 2020health will be launching next year, taking a comprehensive and holistic view of what a child needs in order to thrive, from the early years to secondary school.
Please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be involved.