Today marks World Children’s Day – an opportunity to celebrate this heroic generation of children and young people. Last year I published The Big Ask, a survey that heard the voices of over half a million children and was the largest of its kind.
Children of all ages expressed to me how much they care about their peers and want to live in a fair, safe society. As one child explained, ‘nobody is less capable than anyone […] if they have a different colour of skin […] they should be treated fairly’ – Boy, aged 10. That’s why I have made Better World one of my core pillars. I want to ensure that children’s ambitious, socially conscious, and hopeful vision of their planet’s future is at the heart of policy making.
Today is also a day to raise awareness for the challenges that children are facing. This generation of children has emerged through a global crisis. They have seen how frightening life can be, far too young, and have made a lot of sacrifices. Now they want to get back outside into their communities and connect with their peers in person. As one child said ‘I think that we all spend so much time on social media, worrying about how many followers we have, that we don’t get enough time to just stop and do nothing, or go outside or spend more time with our families’ – Girl, aged 12.
The ‘Family Review Part 1: Family review and its protective effect’ provides a comprehensive exploration into modern family life in England. Our research found that having supportive, lasting family ties, which children can count on, is the most important factor to shield children from adversity and help them succeed later in life. I am dedicated to ensuring that all children, including children for whom the state is their parent, benefit from this protective effect. That’s why this December I will be publishing Part 2 of the Family Review. This will explore how oversight, accountability and availability of family services can be made more cohesive and family centred.
As Children Commissioner my role is to advocate for children and ensure that we listen to their voices. Children have told me how their mental health has been affected by the pandemic, they want their voices heard and their needs to be taken seriously. That’s why my office is prioritising children’s health and wellbeing, with a focus on children getting the support if they need it, and being able to access the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
I am so proud of this generation of children, for speaking up for their beliefs and aspiring for bright futures, lets continue to do better and support our children to thrive.