Why are we still are failing children?

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:


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 juliamanning@2020health.org  if you would like to be involved.


About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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