Politicians don’t understand us, say nation’s children.
New data released today by the Children’s Charities Coalition highlights that children feel politicians don’t understand their lives and aren’t listening to them as the country prepares for a General Election.
The charities surveyed 1,000 children and 1,000 adults and the results from children found that:
- 62% of UK children think that politicians don’t understand the issues that affect children and young people today.
- Almost three quarters (73%) don’t feel that children are listened to by politicians.
- 66% don’t feel they have a say when it comes to decisions politicians make about things which are important to them.
The survey also found that only 34% of adults feel optimistic about the future for children living in the UK.
The Children’s Charities Coalition, a partnership of leading UK children’s charities – Action for Children, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, the National Children’s Bureau, and NSPCC – has shared the findings to raise awareness of widespread concerns about the lives of children and young people.
Ahead of the next General Election, the Coalition’s Children at the Table Campaign, which is a collaboration with young people and has the support of over 130 organisations including SWU and BASW, is calling on the Government to put babies, children, and young people at the heart of policy making.
When asked what they would like politicians to focus on to improve children and young people’s lives, more than a quarter of children (27%) said helping families struggling with money and having the basic things they need. Nearly one in five (18%) want children and young people’s mental health prioritised.
Childhood health and wellbeing is also a concern for adults, most of whom don’t think that children today are safer, happier, or healthier than when they were children and only 16% think politicians fully or mostly understand the issues that affect children and young people.
Children are a priority for people across the UK, with 84% of adults saying that they think it’s important for political parties to outline their plans for children and young people in their manifestos.
It’s estimated that more than 1 in 4 UK children live in poverty and 1.4 million are thought to have a mental health disorder.
Research from The Children’s Society last November found that an estimated 1 in 5 children (20%) are worried about how much money their family has, while half are ‘sometimes’ worried (52%).
A 16-year-old girl who contacted the NSPCC’s Childline last year said: “We don’t have much money and are barely affording to buy food. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to going back to school is because there isn’t the uncertainty of when or if I’ll get to eat.” Another caller to Childline, a 17-year-old, said: “I’m at a point where I don’t want tomorrow to come. Every day I wake up filled with anxiety about what will go wrong next. I’ve asked for help, but nothing has been sorted yet, it feels pointless asking again.”
Paul Carberry, CEO at Action for Children, said:
“Children not only feel overlooked and ignored by political decision makers, but UK adults believe childhoods are worse in terms of safety, happiness and health than when they grew up.
“A child’s happiness and life chances are shaped by the circumstances of their birth and early life experiences. Yet in the UK today, around 4.2 million children are growing up in poverty and the wellbeing and mental health of the country’s children is in decline.
“We’re asking the next Prime Minister and Chancellor, regardless of political party, to ensure children’s voices are heard so they can meaningfully engage in policy development. We want to see an ambitious strategy to put children’s needs at the heart of the next government and make the UK one of the best places in the world to grow up, with more of the nation’s wealth invested in babies, children and young people.”
Sir Peter Wanless, CEO at NSPCC, said:
“Babies, children and young people have been overlooked by UK policy makers for too long and the detrimental impact is clear. Over a quarter of our children are living in poverty and there is an escalating mental health crisis which has left services struggling to cope with the rising demand.
“At the same time there are increasing numbers of children persistently absent from school, at risk of abuse, exploitation and online harm, and being taken into care when families break down under the strain.
“We need a commitment to a transformational change to UK childhoods from the very top of government and the next general election presents a key opportunity to address the urgent issues facing babies, children and young people today.”
Baroness Floella Benjamin, Vice President of Barnardo’s, and former BBC Playschool presenter, said:
“As I always say, ‘Childhood lasts a lifetime’ – so I’m extremely proud to support this campaign to give children a voice in decision making which will affect their whole lives.
“With widespread poverty, inequality and shrinking support for children and families, there has never been a more vital time to put children at the centre of political parties’ plans for the next Government.”
The Children at the Table campaign is calling on the Government to:
- Work together to improve the lives of babies, children, and young people.
- Put children’s needs and voices at the heart of decision making.
- Spend more of the nation’s wealth on babies, children, and young people.