Open letter from Children's Society to UK political parties
This General Election marks a watershed moment in British Politics. There are big decisions that need to be made, decisions that will impact our society now and long into the future. In this crucial election campaign, it is our fear that the voices of our children and young people will be drowned out. We cannot afford to make such a costly mistake.
The UK’s annual ‘Good Childhood Report’ finds that since 2009 the well-being of our children and young people has been in decline. Compared to most other OECD nations, our young people are significantly less happy and more stressed than their international peers. Britain’s youth are growing up in hard times.
Rising mental ill-health, alarming levels of serious violence and exploitation affecting young people, declining social mobility, rising obesity levels, and decreasing physical activity levels all impact our children and young people detrimentally; the social contract between young people and adults appears increasingly broken. Unhappy children are likely to become unhappy adults, with dire consequences for our nation. If we are to ensure the well-being of all our citizens we need to start taking children’s well-being seriously – in our schools, social work, youth services and in our NHS.
But significant underinvestment in how we measure and understand children’s well-being undermines all our efforts to improve things for young people. Without the data and insight needed we are just stumbling around in the dark.
That is why we, the undersigned, call on each political party to commit to establishing the annual measurement of children’s well-being in schools and to put children’s well-being firmly at the heart of policy development and spending decisions. We call on all political parties to re-commit to young people. Their lives are this country’s long-term investment. Their well-being is our greatest asset. It’s time we started taking them seriously.