Wednesday, 4 December 2013

This Country Is Not Child Friendly.

Britain is not a child-friendly country in general and never has been. And look where we are now!

In the past we saw children as cheap labour, sent them up chimneys, down mines, into factories, etc. And in the better off homes they were raised by nannies, seen and not heard, and possibly not even seen. That spread out into general society until children were regarded as more of a nuisance than a blessing. Sent to bed early, dumped in front of television sets or games consoles to avoid having to deal with them in a proper affectionate manner.

Traveling abroad one sees a huge difference in some countries where children are welcomed: in restaurants, cafes, pretty much everywhere. Family is important in these countries. Yes, some can go overboard with brothers being over protective of sisters, fathers too protective of daughters, but is that worse than our attitude where in many families no one seems to care at all.

Women having to work away from home started during the two world wars but is now pretty much expected and demanded by successive governments, and a necessity for many families who have to have both parents working just to survive. And then there is the issue of single parent families, trying to cope.  This has added to the neglect of children in some families; it has been passed down through successive generations and is just getting worse.

And now? We have a very high teenage pregnancy rate, we have teenage binge drinking, we have school absenteeism, teenage crime and prison population. And these will be the parents of the next generation of children. How will they be raised?

Are these things unconnected? I don’t think so. This country needs to take a good hard look at how we raise our children if we want things to improve.

Of course, this is a generalisation, not all families are so dysfunctional but many are and we need to look at and tackle the root causes. Punishment is not the answer to it all, more laws concerning youth crime are not the answer, but more love, more respect, more caring are. From an early age.

Educating today's young on the right ways to raise their children is a start, but facilities have to be put in place to then allow parents to be parents, rather than just breadwinners, with time to spend with their children.  Public places need to be encouraged to allow parents to take their children with them instead of having to leave them at home.

Attitudes regarding how we see children in general need to change. 

The new laws regarding parental leave for both parents is a step in the right direction but won't deal with the problem as it now stands. Maybe we should be writing to those in power, who possibly don't see the problem as most of us do, to ask them to act, before another generation of largely neglected children is born.

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