Today marks International Youth Day – the day when we celebrate children and young people around the world and raise awareness about the issues that affect them. One of my priorities is to put children’s interests at the heart of policy making and to amplify children’s voices on the issues which they care the most about. That’s why one of the core pillars of my work is Better World, to advocate for children’s view on protecting the environment and building a fairer society.
International Youth Day was first designated by the United Nations in 2000. It is one of the things that the UN does to work with governments around the world to protect children’s rights, mostly under the banner of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The UK Government has just submitted one of its regular reports on our progress on children’s rights and I will be responding to this with the other Children’s Commissioners in the UK.
This year, the UN set the theme of Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages for International Youth Day. This year’s theme is an important one, as it highlights that children don’t grow up in isolation. They are deeply embedded with their peers, their communities, and their families.
I have heard from this generation of children time and again in The Big Ask, the largest-ever survey of children in England that I conducted last year, how much they valued local community. Some said the things they thought were important:
“Having a secure, safe and good community.” – Boy, aged 12.
“Help community and save animals.” – Girl, aged 8.
“1. A good job. 2. A kind local community.” – Boy, aged 9.
Another thing that I learned was how important children see it to have a fairer, better world for themselves and their families.
“My mum is amazing I’m so grateful for her […] I love my family they love me I don’t have any problems.” – Girl, aged 11.
“A loving family is worth more than money and will give you guidance, support and love and advice.” – Boy, aged 11. “I think children like me are distracted from reaching their goals […] as they worry about their family or if their family can afford to have a house.” – Boy, aged 12.
“You can’t help what you are born. Everyone should be treated fairly.” – Boy, aged 11.
That’s why I am excited to be exploring issues affecting families in the first-ever independent Family Review. I look forward to sharing my findings on how public services could serve families, and the children within them. That would truly mean creating a better world for all ages.