Unlike most other countries, until 2013 the UK did not have a National Children’s Day, (which says a lot about successive governments’ lack of focus on the wellbeing of children and families!). Now in its fifth year the day has become a major platform, not only for celebrating childhood, but for also raising awareness about the issues that are affecting the lives of children and families in the modern world. People can run any event or activity that they want for the week up to and including the day.
Why is the UK so poor on child rights?
It was shocking to have it so clearly confirmed last year just how much the UK is so behind other countries in its commitment to child rights. According to the KidsRights Index 2017, it now ranks among the bottom 10 global performers in the arena of improving rights of the child, after it achieved the lowest-possible score across all six available indicators in the domain of Child Rights Environment – and in UNICEF’s Report Card 13 ‘Fairness for Children’, the UK had the largest difference among all the countries studied in the levels of healthy eating (consumption of fruit and vegetables) between children from low and high socio-economic status. This was accompanied by one of the largest gaps in the levels of physical activity. Inequality in education was also flagged up, with the UK being ranked 25th out of the 37 countries – behind Slovenia, Poland and Romania.
This lack of focus in rights is then echoed by increasingly alarming statistics on child health and wellbeing. And it’s not only child wellbeing that matters. It’s really important that children are able to spend their time with happy, healthy adults, which is why we focused on this fact for NCDUK2018.
What are the rights of the child?
When we launched National Children’s Day UK (NCDUK) we thought a lot about what the rights of the young child should be and we developed our own Children’s Charter of Developmental rights.
Given the increasing body of evidence about the importance of the early years to societal health and wellbeing we also wanted to help raise awareness about the fact that investing in early childhood is the most important thing that any society can do. From an economic perspective such investment brings enormous benefits later on.
In 2015 the All Party Parliamentary Group for Conception to Age Two shared their own conclusion that tackling the problems associated with early life should be no less a priority for politicians and health and social care professionals than that of national defence.
Early Relationships maximize later health and happiness
The experiences that we have through the interactions with our parents and early caregivers literally shape our biology. Through the bond that develops during pregnancy mothers play the major role, with their physical and emotional presence during the early period of a child’s life having a significant impact on long-term emotional and mental health. But children also have an immediate genetic attachment bond with their fathers, who then share in their early nurture.
Unfortunately, both mums and dads in the UK are currently struggling, not only with the loss of extended family and community life, but also with increased economic pressures that mean both now frequently have to work to make ends meet. That means that they increasingly have to rely on other people to look after their children.
It’s the most important job of all
Children become attached to whoever is their primary caregiver. But the nature of that attachment – whether it is secure or insecure – makes a huge difference over the course of a child’s life. By far the most important predictor of how well adults cope with adversity is the level of security established with their primary caregivers during the first two years of life.
That means childminders, early years workers and nannies have some of the most important jobs in the world and we need to ensure that this is better recognized and that they are valued for the amazing work they do.
So we hope everyone will use NCDUK2018 to not only have lots of fun with children in their care, but to raise awareness about just how important these early relationships are.
Let us know what you are doing and during the week we will share it with a national audience.
A bit about the author
Wendy is the founder and Chief Executive of the Save Childhood Movement Collaboration – Awareness Raising - Championing Childhood
www.savechildhood.net - firstname.lastname@example.org
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