The UK and US have come bottom of Unicefs league on child well being. Whilst European countries dominate. The wide ranging report examines general well being. In ‘risk behaviours’ the UK is at the foot of the rankings by "a considerable distance". (Risk behaviours being defined as smoking, being drunk, using cannabis, fighting and bullying and sexual behaviour). Their subjective sense of well being also falls well short. You dont need Unicef to tell us these problems. They are obvious. In covering the report last night Newsnight interviewed a range of kids and covered a number of issues. The issue of boundaries came up. The lack of them. Parents and kids are fearful of each other, parents don’t or are unable to establish boundaries and probably lack even basic parenting skills, and kids are frightened of their peers. Kids didnt feel that families spend enough time together, one mentioned there is ‘nothing to do except have sex and drink’ – and they dont rate their own sense of self worth very highly. Typically Labour blamed poverty. The Tory shadow minister however seemed to be more on the right track.
"I don’t actually think government has the answer to all these problems. This is not all about politicians in Westminster passing laws, it’s about social responsibility, it’s about parents taking greater responsibility for their children, it’s about trusting teachers in classrooms, it’s about us as neighbours in a society playing our part as well…. children also need boundaries and those in charge of children, whether its teachers in the classroom, need greater responsibilities in terms of disciplining those children, but also parents need to play their part."
I dont think we have a great sense of family here in comparison to our European neighbours – and government could do something to improve that, he touches on that himself since disciplining kids will land you in court – you could consider offering similar financial support support packages for families to spend more time with their kids, encourage other skills in kids who arent academic rather than merely forcing everyone through a weak low level university system or onto welfare and early parenthood. But ultimately no, he’s right the government does not have all the answers.