This is our report on what we’ve done over the last year, and what we intend to achieve this year and beyond.
Last year, I said we would identify our priorities – and we have. We knew we needed a clear focus to improve the lives of 11 million children and young people.
We’ve asked thousands of children, young people and adults to tell us where to place our efforts and energy so that we can achieve maximum impact, with both focus and flexibility.
Our strategy has been shaped by over 7,000 children and young people, sharing their views and experiences through our Shout! competition and participation activity.
Countless children and young people tell me that adults don’t respect them, they’re not asked for their opinions in matters that affect them or that their views are simply not heard.
There’s an increasing intolerance for adolescents in our society. The ‘mosquito’ – a device that emits a sound only the young can hear, with the single aim of moving them on – is a prime example of this, as is the appetite to dish out more ASBOs.
The creeping criminalisation of our young is also a concern. We lock away more young people than other European Union member states. Why?
In the fourth richest country in the world, why are children still living in poverty? And why are children still being let down by services that should support them? I want to live in a society that is friendly towards all children and young people.
So I am challenging adults about how they treat the young.
I want an end to children being the only people who can still be hit lawfully. Children are protected from assault in school and other settings. It’s time for protection from violence at home where, of all places, they should expect to feel safe. That’s why I’m pressing for children to have the same right to protection under the law on common assault as adults.
We’ve failed our most vulnerable children for too long. Children must be everybody’s business – parents, families, schools, communities, faith groups and government.
Which is why I am delighted that the Government has taken the bold step of creating a cabinet post of Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.
To me, this is a clear indication that Gordon Brown is serious about placing children at the heart of our society. And to deliver my part, we’ve proudly announced our priorities, our promise to you all, and our organisation’s name, 11 MILLION.
We have two long-term goals:
- children and young people see significant improvement in their wellbeing and can freely enjoy their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
- children and young people are more highly valued by adult society.
Thousands of individuals of all ages have supported 11 MILLION to help us get this far. Their effort and dedication is already making a difference, but we need many more people to work with us to make our long-term goals reality.
By working together, we can make a real difference.
Children are our most precious asset. They are a living message to a time we will not see.
Thanks a million!
Professor Sir Albert Aynsley-Green