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Tuesday, 13 Feb, 2007 - Making children happy

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Feb 07, 01:32 PM

kids203a.jpgWhat is the most important thing that makes a child happy?

UNICEF have mounted a major study into how happy young people are in the rich countries of the world, and we'll be outlining and analysing their results on a special edition of Newsnight tonight.

Is it having a loving family? Getting a good education? Access to healthcare?

Let us know the ONE thing you think is essential for the well-being of our kids, and join Jeremy tonight at 2230GMT to find out how UNICEF thinks the UK does in looking after its young people.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:30 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • John Bennett wrote:

The one essential - there are many parts, but I think this might encompass them all - is to have guidelines set down and explained.

  • 2.
  • At 02:31 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • victoria green wrote:

Having a happy childhood depends on love and fun activities. The love from parents, grand parents, aunts and uncles and also activities, like painting, bike rides, holidays, cooking all of these contribute to a happy childhood...well in my case anyway.

  • 3.
  • At 02:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:


  • 4.
  • At 02:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Julian Corner wrote:

Love is the one thing a child needs above all else.

Possesssions are fine, so is money, so is a nice house, friends are good, so are holidays - but without LOVE all of the material things come to naught.

  • 5.
  • At 02:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Stefan Muller wrote:

Growing up free of violence

  • 6.
  • At 02:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • victoria wrote:

for a child to feel happy , it needs , love , security and a direction provided by a good strict education or a family religon.

  • 7.
  • At 02:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • R E EDWARDS wrote:


  • 8.
  • At 02:33 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Hugh wrote:

A child needs security and praise.

  • 9.
  • At 02:34 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sophie wrote:

security - in all its many guises e.g. parental love, not being blown up, being able to learn and question with out being silenced, enough food not to feel hungry all the time etc, etc.

  • 10.
  • At 02:34 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • R E EDWARDS wrote:


  • 11.
  • At 02:34 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Iain wrote:

Family is important. And this might be terribly un-PC of me, but by Family I mean mother, father and - ideally - grandparents. In an age where divorce, single parenting and same-sex marriages are commonplace we have to ask the question - has it made children happier? I think not. ASBOs (or their equivalent) were rarely heard of 50 years ago and I think part of the rise in anti-social behaviour in young people can be linked to the failings of the family unit to monitor, to discipline and - most importantly - to love.

  • 12.
  • At 02:35 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Ian Hart wrote:

Freedom from the alienating influence of manufactured pop culture.

  • 13.
  • At 02:35 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • kam wrote:

safety/security. Not just physically but mentally, psychologically and emotionally etc. Having a safe and secure environment to grow, learn and play in is paramount, as well as being loved. It helps to contribute to the development of high self-esteem which in turn brings lots of psychological benefits to young people as they grow older.

  • 14.
  • At 02:35 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • R E EDWARDS wrote:


  • 15.
  • At 02:35 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • richard furness wrote:

gettting the best possible start in life from a combination of loving family and a good education

  • 16.
  • At 02:36 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • H Bryant wrote:

A loving family is vital.

As part of this, discipline is equally vital. Too many kids think that they can get away with anything these days, and a lot of it is neglect, in my opinion.

  • 17.
  • At 02:36 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Alan Allcock wrote:

Unfettered, safe but not neurotically so, spacious 'play', with other children - from early through to teenage years.

  • 18.
  • At 02:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Carrie wrote:

Good role models.

  • 19.
  • At 02:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Miriam Binder wrote:

Reasonable and clearly defined boundaries.

  • 20.
  • At 02:38 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Caroline Miles wrote:

I believe the most important thing for a child to be happy is love and attention. A good education is wonderful and of course healthcare is very important but if a child does not feel loved and wanted then how can you ever expect them to be happy?

  • 21.
  • At 02:38 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

It sounds corny but unconditional love has to come high in a list of fundamentals for a child to be happy. A parent or carer's ability to provide unconditional positive regard can be undermined if they are having to struggle economically or are dealing with a history of trauma or emotional neglect themselves.

  • 22.
  • At 02:38 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Christopher Skelton wrote:


  • 23.
  • At 02:39 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • dave warren wrote:

Having the love,support and respect of their family

  • 24.
  • At 02:39 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Tom Blakesley wrote:

Having a loving relationship with BOTH
parents within the Marriage i.e Mother and Father figure would indeed be a better footage for their future.

  • 25.
  • At 02:39 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Dee Branigan wrote:

I think that all of these things are really, really important but, it all starts with a happy, loving and secure home.

  • 26.
  • At 02:40 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Rose Andruskevicius wrote:

Unconditional love. It doesnt matter how rich or poor you are or what your social status is.

  • 27.
  • At 02:41 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mike Matthews wrote:

Security in a stable family.

  • 28.
  • At 02:41 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Paula Varley wrote:

If we have to limit ourselves to one aspect of a child's life which is essential for happiness, it is the security of a loving family. Access to healthcare and education are vitally important, but neither are in the same league as the family. The family secures access to welfare services on the child's behalf, and provides much of the child's healthcare, and is the child's primary educator.

  • 29.
  • At 02:41 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • geva blackett wrote:

loving, supportive and consistent parenting

  • 30.
  • At 02:41 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sawsan Johnston wrote:

I believe a loving family is the best thing you can offer a child.

  • 31.
  • At 02:41 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Bev wrote:

I think that the one thing that makes children happy is having parents/carers that have time to spend and play with them.

Doesn't matter how much money you have or don't have - love and fun don't cost anything

  • 32.
  • At 02:42 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • nick wrote:

one cannt give children happines, that is largley up to them, but it s vital to give thme the environement where they can find happiness. life s a struggle for all , whateveter happpiness one has to give a loving family, environement, and education, also life opportunities, such as a decent job. in many many ways all this is a lottery, and such conditions as these are in my view, far from the norm, though I do see cases where these perfect conditions exist for children to find happiness.

  • 33.
  • At 02:43 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Alan wrote:


  • 34.
  • At 02:43 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • David Ponting wrote:

If we set aside the basic needs that a child has - food , shelter and healthcare I would imagine all that is really needed is the love of his or her parents... and maybe a playstation 3 for good measure !

  • 35.
  • At 02:44 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Paula Bennett wrote:

Having responsible parents/guardians who know how to bring up children and put them first.

  • 36.
  • At 02:46 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Victoria Dickins wrote:

Ensuring that children with special educational needs get the support and help they need early on in their educational careers; to prevent them failing and having their self-confidence knocked. This should be available to all regardless of income.

  • 37.
  • At 02:46 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Catherine Duffy wrote:

Love and stability from their parents

  • 38.
  • At 02:47 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jude Johnston wrote:

A Supportive family and the instilment of values and respect.

  • 39.
  • At 02:48 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jason Kennedy wrote:

The ability to have a happy secure relationship with both sets of parents, even when they separate. The right to have such a relationship with BOTH parents participating in a full role of their lives - this includes wiping their bottoms, their noses, picking them up when they fall, comforting and cuddling them, helping them ride their first bike, picking them up and dropping them off from school, helping them with their homework, letting them develop as the most wonderful human being to the full potential that they are capable and worthy off.

To have the right to such a relationship with their parents, regardless of what has happened in their parents lives when they separate. The ability to have a happy and full relationship with each parent without the interference or negative actions of one parent trying to dominate the other, as seems to happen most times when parents separate and (predominantly) the mother seems to try and thwart the father/child relationship.

  • 40.
  • At 02:49 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Noel wrote:

I believe the one essential for our kids is having a loving family. A good education is something that the child has to prescribe to; having access to the best schools and the best teaching is no guarantee that the child will benefit. Similarly, access to healthcare is of little use to a healthy and fit child, whereas it's a priority for children of a weaker disposition. In both of these cases, the loving family can support the education of a child, and provide comfort and support when a child is ill.

I acknowledge that we live in a fractured family society, and that this is placing extra burdens on single parents, and parents and partners with step-children. However, I feel grandparents have a role to fill here. A relationship breakdown between parents should not exclude grandparents from still retaining influence, and if they can offer a loving family by extension then this should be embraced.

  • 41.
  • At 02:49 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • tonyms wrote:

having a stable family, a mother and father!

  • 42.
  • At 02:51 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • doc wrote:

A loving family.

  • 43.
  • At 02:51 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mateen A. Zia wrote:

Love affection and care not only make the normal children happy healhty and confident but to retarded ones as well.

Please encourage to young parents and all to keep it continued as this was an old and gold tradition of humanity.

  • 44.
  • At 02:52 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Barbara Hodge wrote:

This one thing I know, having lived both within the swirls of urban city life (London), where mothers drive and rush and pay to provide the entertainment we consider important to making the children "happy"; and having then downsized to a small sunny seaside community (Florida) where we walk to school, play in the neraby fields, and have much quiet time at home: children are content when you minimize stress (so no "rushing off"), offer lots of unstructured outdoor time, and allow them the space and quiet to just "be" without always pushing.

We are so competitive today and we think pushing our children early will ensure a better future in terms of job and money. That will only ensure that the stress of our grownup lives enters theirs all the earlier.

Also: build resilience early (life is full of blows and disappointments; let's not pretend to them it isn't) and manage their expectations. The happiest people I have met are those with little but who have the amazing ability to be content; the most unhappy those with much, but who are surprised it does not guarantee happiness. The challenge in this entirely consumer driven time is to teach children the intangible values and joys of each day.


B Hodge
St Augustine Florida

  • 45.
  • At 02:52 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Emma wrote:

The one thing that I think makes children happy is self-confidence - belief or trust in one's own powers.

Which means that this power is not distorted by family or other influences; signficant over or under confidence may have a negative impact. For example, in some of the richer families or celebrity over-confidence has lead to depression and inability to sustain normal relationships. Under-confidence, for example from abuse, may result in a child feeling helpless and unable to stop negative events happening to them.

I think real self-confidence is brought about through empowering children as people. For example, involving children in making their own decisions, in the home and from society e.g. asking for their input in government policies which will effect them.

  • 46.
  • At 02:52 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mariana Fassnidge wrote:

UNICEF may have centered their study into children in "rich" countries, living out, unfortunately, most of the children of the world, under that criteria.

Ask a child wherever in the world that you are right now and the answer will be more or less the same:
1. being loved by who ever is in charge of them (father, mother, both, uncles, grandparents, etc) and that involves, providing them with a) love (and all that it implies for a child)
b) support
c) food and then,
d) what ever the adults can provide them for entertainment, naimly, toys, space where to play, other children to interact with and education.

Stimulating their creativity and teaching them to develop it (although kids themselves could not articulate all this, but it comes to the same) is perhaps what kids need most. Pity that most adults in any part of the world in charge of kids cannot provide this aspect as they are not prepare to do that by lack of education for themselves (and that, of course, includes adults in "rich" countries as well).

  • 47.
  • At 02:53 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Olivia Ryan wrote:

I am 26 now and feel that nobody my age is satisfied with what they have. I feel that we were given too much choice as children too much was given too young. Too much to entertain us with TV, computer games etc so that now we bore easily and are never happy with what money etc we have. Too much access to read about what those better off than ourselves have so we want that too. We spend out lives looking at how the other half live and it has never been so enticing and made to appear so attainable through reality TV and the lottery etc.

This is simply not true and I think that parents need to bring their children back down to earth and make them recognice that they may well be very special and bright etc but that they are 99% of the time not destimned for stardom and auditioning on the X factor is a bad idea and teaching them to manage finances not to get credit cards as soon as possible and helping them to change their spending, 16 year olds don't need designer perfume or clothes, to be totally honest none of us do but it needs to be drummed into young people that it is better to not have "That Louis Vuitton bag" than to have it and be spiralling into debt.

  • 48.
  • At 02:53 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • angela southern wrote:

The essential thing for the well-being of our kids is parents on whom they can depend.

  • 49.
  • At 02:53 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Elizabeth Stromberg wrote:

To know they are loved for what they are, not for what they might be.

  • 50.
  • At 02:53 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Karen wrote:

The one thing that is essential to the well-being of our kids is for them to learn that every action has consequences, good or bad. Without that, they'll never be happy, no matter what their circumstances of their education, family, social status or health.

  • 51.
  • At 02:55 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • John wrote:

The ONE thing essential for the well-being of our kids is to be COMPLETELY honest with them at ALL times.

  • 52.
  • At 02:55 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • andrew wrote:

If my daughter's mother let her see me more, I believe it would make her happier. But this country's legal framework supports the ex, in practical terms, in systematically excluding me from her life and in causing ridiculous expense and conflict at every turn.

  • 53.
  • At 02:56 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mark Kerr wrote:

The ONE thing that is essential is freedom. Freedom from fear and pain, freedom to play, learn and experiment and freedom just to be a child.

  • 54.
  • At 02:56 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • wafula Augustine wrote:

I will talk about making the Musmia child from Uganda.
For our children in samia land, They love to eat: so food or the care of the stomach is very important and will cry when He or she has no food.
Clothingwhich make him or her part of the rest will make the child happy. Walking with her or him or for those with cars will make the child feel loved and thuis will leed a samia child to happiness. I have noticed that toys are also bring some happiness to a samia child;For the boys, they like car or machine carsand for the girls baby toys will make them happy

  • 55.
  • At 02:57 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • charlie wrote:

the most important thing for a child to be happy is to have 2 loving parents around him/her

  • 56.
  • At 02:59 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Happiness is found from having the strength of a warm and loving family. Unfortunately it is one of those things that is not missed until it does not exist any more.

  • 57.
  • At 02:59 PM on 13 Feb 2007,

A feeling of love and security; family and friends; happiness; routine and discipline are among the most important, I feel

  • 58.
  • At 03:00 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Suzie Woodward wrote:

This is a leading question as much depends on the age of the child as to what seems important to them - at THAT time. There cannot be ONE essential thing! However, overall, my one answer would be "to know they were liked and loved", no matter what.....

A: To know that their parents will be there for them.

I'm 50 and that still holds true.

Thanks, Mum & Dad.

  • 60.
  • At 03:02 PM on 13 Feb 2007,

A feeling of love and security; family and friends; happiness; routine and discipline are among the most important, I feel

  • 61.
  • At 03:02 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • John McWilliams wrote:

The most beneficial thing any child can have is responsible loving parents who are prepared to invest whatever effort and time is required in the upbringing of that child. Costs of doing so, whilst not being an unimportant factor, are completely secondary.....

  • 62.
  • At 03:04 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Tracey M. Taylor wrote:

A loving home, where a child can grow and develop into an adult. Having all the latest toys and gadgets is NOT essential, but time with family, freedom to learn and express themselves.

  • 63.
  • At 03:05 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • David Thrower wrote:

As one in 100 UK children is now suffering from autism, the one thing that would make these children Including my son) happy is to properly investigate their condition, particularly the conclusive evidence of gut damage and its relationship to their proven inability to absorb nutrients, detoxify and excrete toxins and produce enzymes. In 2002, the Medical Research Council was given a miserable £2.75m to investigate autism, including this area as a priority. To date, they have not done so.

  • 64.
  • At 03:06 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Marie Morris wrote:

Love, reassurance and a sense of self fosters independence.
Encouraging and valuing the child builds on self esteem.
Over indulgence promotes self and an inability to value.

  • 65.
  • At 03:06 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Raymond Turner wrote:

I consider family life with good parentage most important, complete love and careing for each and everyone in the family, to-gether with a good education to be the secret of happiness.

  • 66.
  • At 03:07 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sally wrote:

security and encouragement

  • 67.
  • At 03:07 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Larry wrote:

I agree - a sense of total security and that stems from being brought up in a stable environment with both caring parents.

  • 68.
  • At 03:08 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Stephen Skippon wrote:

This is an issue that has been extensively researched. A quick review of the literature would be more informative than this kind of poll. News and current affairs coverage ought to offer more depth than you can achieve by simply repeating viewer comments.

  • 69.
  • At 03:09 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Abdul-karim Hamidu wrote:

Getting good education will make the child self dependent in future. Remember that childhood is the foundation of hope and education is inextricably linked to it.There is no gainsaying that access to healthcare is an integral part of a child's development

  • 70.
  • At 03:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Bob wrote:


  • 71.
  • At 03:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jos Van Waeterschoodt wrote:

The one thing kids can't do without is at least one strong reliable person who is around to give emotional support.

Lacking that, they will experience lack of confidence and many other psycho-social and possibly even psychopathological disorders throughout their whole lives.

Two parents with genuine and completely unselfish love, both for each other, for the children, and for all around them. Rare, but this is my suggested ideal for happy children.

  • 73.
  • At 03:12 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • H.M.Hammond-Jones wrote:

In a busy world the most important thing we can give our children is our time, time to listen, time to play within secure disciplined boundaries.

  • 74.
  • At 03:12 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Amy Ana Maria wrote:

Depends on the social and the general standards but with the inner-personal& private middle, as well. The wealthy + intellectual family, too.

  • 75.
  • At 03:12 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • John Hatch wrote:

At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, kids need to be taught respect for their elders and the old.. childeren today respect nothing and no-one so we must set the example for future generations

  • 76.
  • At 03:14 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Damian Martin wrote:

Going to bed in the knowledge that one is safe, loved and that tomorrow is a day to look forward to.

  • 77.
  • At 03:15 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Belinda wrote:

Positive self image based on a sense of being valued by significant others in their lives.

Why are we asking adults? Why don't we ask the children?

Respect is what make children happy. It encompasses love, support, boundaries, freedom, family, equality, education...

  • 79.
  • At 03:15 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mike Bossingham wrote:

Time - Sufficient quality time given from either a parent or a safe adult.

A happy home regardless of what form that takes - happily married couple, single parent, divorced parents - is the best start a child can have.

  • 81.
  • At 03:17 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Graham Silversides wrote:

The most important thing that makes a child happy is a never ending supply of toys and sweets!
This is an impossible question to answer from a childs perspective because it ultimately depends upon the circumstances of each child. If a child has a loving and caring family and home environment then the childs concern is the toys and sweets. If they are from a deprived background they will crave and appreciate the more important things in life that they are deprived of, be it love, a family, a home, food, health. The question should be "What is the most important factor to ensure a child develops to it's full potential in countries in the rich west?" My answer to that is "love and attention".

  • 82.
  • At 03:17 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Teri Power wrote:

Love and Belonging

Love alone is not enough, security alone is not enough, wealth and education has nothing to do with it. Is belonging enough?

  • 83.
  • At 03:18 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Barbara Hodge wrote:

This one thing I know, having lived both within the swirls of urban city life (London), where mothers drive and rush and pay to provide the entertainment we consider important to making the children "happy"; and having then downsized to a small sunny seaside community (Florida) where we walk to school, play in the neraby fields, and have much quiet time at home: children are content when you minimize stress (so no "rushing off"), offer lots of unstructured outdoor time, and allow them the space and quiet to just "be" without always pushing.

We are so competitive today and we think pushing our children early will ensure a better future in terms of job and money. That will only ensure that the stress of our grownup lives enters theirs all the earlier.

Also: build resilience early (life is full of blows and disappointments; let's not pretend to them it isn't) and manage their expectations. The happiest people I have met are those with little but who have the amazing ability to be content; the most unhappy those with much, but who are surprised it does not guarantee happiness. The challenge in this entirely consumer driven time is to teach children the intangible values and joys of each day.


B Hodge
St Augustine Florida

  • 84.
  • At 03:19 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Carmel Harrison wrote:

Children spell LOVE TIME.

  • 85.
  • At 03:20 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Neil Armitage wrote:

In a world full of hurry-sickness, spending time with your children is the most important thing for their general well being and development. Sharing an experience, even a trivial one, creates a bond and generates self worth. Of course, the bottom rungs of Maslow's heirarchy of needs must be met first, i.e. physical needs and security & there must be love.

It's about knowing that we will be held and so we are safe - security is what we all want, adults and children.

  • 87.
  • At 03:22 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Teresa wrote:


  • 88.
  • At 03:22 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Carmel Harrison wrote:

Children spell LOVE TIME.

  • 89.
  • At 03:23 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Alex Mitchell wrote:

The adults in a child's life must provide the basics (food, shelter, love, respect) in a way that enables the child to reach his/her full potential as a human being

  • 90.
  • At 03:23 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

Love, protection, guidance and boundaries.

  • 91.
  • At 03:23 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Elina wrote:

A Child needs to be brought up in a loving environment - family, school, friends.

  • 92.
  • At 03:24 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Carmel Harrison wrote:

Children spell LOVE TIME.

  • 93.
  • At 03:26 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • shaneb wrote:

Laughter. It encompasses love, and security, and everything else necessary in our formative years. A childhood without laughter is unthinkable.

  • 94.
  • At 03:26 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Karen wrote:

Abundant love, fair play, respect and security. A child should always be able to feel that he or she has someone to listen to him or her and who will take whatever is said seriously. Many hugs and cuddles.

  • 95.
  • At 03:30 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • N. Goldberg wrote:

Being part of a happy and loving home incorporates everything mentione above

  • 96.
  • At 03:30 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Stella Day wrote:

Being loved and being shown you are loved

  • 97.
  • At 03:31 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Children need a Mother, a Father, A Sense of stabilty, Unconditional love, strong ethics and morals, consistent and just discipline, and examples shown to them by both parents. However, show me any parent who has an abundance of all the above... it's hard work and there's no text books to read beforehand !!!

I believe that "net happiness" is derived from the instantaneous mix of positive and negative emotional forces acting on an individual (as perceived by the individual in question). Simply stated: "minimise the negative, e.g. sources of anxiety/stress, and maximise the positive, e.g. sources of pleasure/joy". (Obviously, it's easy to think of lots of examples of each.) Overall, I would say that negative forces are more powerful than positive ones, so minimising the former (e.g. ensuring freedom from harm, proper nutrition, etc) would take priority. Plus of course there will often be trade-offs between instantaneous, short-term happiness (e.g. having to sit through algebra class!) and longer-term happiness. Thus there is no "one thing", but I guess you already knew that! If you're looking for experts to appear on your programme, I would suggest this guy:

  • 99.
  • At 03:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • ogunseye oluwarotimi williams wrote:

In this part of the world where poverty is the order of the day; when all parents are struggling for the survival of their kids even to eat at least two half square meal a day. Therefore no one should be in any doubt as to if other essentials would be given any worthy attention. But as for me every things that will bring comfort to our kids right from their infancy to their adulthood stage, should be paramount in the heart of any responsible parents and unicef, not an exemption in this regard. Thanks.

Good, relatively strict parents.

  • 101.
  • At 03:35 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mark wrote:


  • 102.
  • At 03:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • janet wrote:

In my opinion, love is the only thing that can make your children happy.

  • 103.
  • At 03:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Marie Morris wrote:

Love, reassurance and a sense of self fosters independence.
Encouraging and valuing the child builds on self esteem.
Over indulgence promotes self and an inability to value.

  • 104.
  • At 03:40 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Eunice wrote:

Definitely a loving family. If you have caring people around you that you can rely on, then any problem can be tackled.

  • 105.
  • At 03:46 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Rachel Searle wrote:

Being at the centre of Mum and Dad's world so that so that they grow up knowing that they are loveable.

  • 106.
  • At 03:49 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Hilda Meers wrote:

Vital elements like love, security, non-violence are rightly put as necessary; the shocking figures of emotional trauma to Palestinian children who see friends, neighbours, parents, siblings, killed or wounded inIsraeli Defence Forces attacks, (recently documented by Medical Aid to Palestine) bears out what happens in situations of near-total insecurity.What seeds are we sowing throughout the Middle East?

  • 107.
  • At 03:54 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • mohanrao wrote:

I think the most important thing which children need is to spend quality time with their parents. In this fast paced age few parents actually spend good time with their children. This results in children becoming alienated, rebellious and difficult to manage during their teenage years. Family life is very important for them. No amount of money will replace the security provided by a healthy family atmosphere.

  • 108.
  • At 03:57 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Anne Nott wrote:

Being deputy head of a school for blind and visually impaired children, many of whom have additional and complex needs, as well as having four children of my own, I feel I have a lot of experience and understanding of what makes children happy in spite of huge difficulties. It is to feel loved and valued for themselves.

  • 109.
  • At 03:57 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sara wrote:

The strength - developed through good parenting - to distinguish between right and wrong, to make up their own minds and to act accordingly.

  • 110.
  • At 03:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Dewi Prysor wrote:

What makes kids happy is plenty of interactivity with parents. i.e. parents playing games with them, sharing activities - especially creative activities - and regularily talking and discussing things, listening to their stories, sharing in their delights at their experiences and discoveries.

Kids are exploring a whole new world. Be there to share it with them. Happiness will follow.

  • 111.
  • At 03:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Naved Siddiqi wrote:

To be happy, the one thing I feel a child needs to know, is that Mum and Dad are always there as loving towers of strength: Dad is strong - not crippled by debt worry and treated respectfully in the streets. And Mum is always there - when you want her and when you don't!

  • 112.
  • At 03:59 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Timothy Higgs wrote:

That the parents stay together

  • 113.
  • At 04:04 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Amin Ali wrote:

Its really quite difficult to define exactly what makes kids happy. For what they might want to do to be happy, might at the end of the day not help them to grow as responsible people. For this I believe care, love, supervision, discipline and freedom to express themselves will help in finding them happiness.

  • 114.
  • At 04:05 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jeff B. wrote:

Having BOTH the natural mother and father involved with the children as fully as possible, whether they are separated or together.

Presently only mothers are considered necessary to a family by the authorities and many in society, fathers are ok if the mother says so.

Not good enough to treat one parent as a 2nd class citizen, the children see that and it costs the children especially hugely in emotional terms.

A sense of being loved without question. All else follows from this.

  • 116.
  • At 04:06 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Allan Lange wrote:

For a higher level of happiiness or satisfaction in life, children must feel some form of accomplishment--that they are useful or are valued within family life; I believe this is different than just having a good work ethic; a positive individual identity is established by knowing that a contribution is being made and that their absence or the absence of contribution will be regetted by those around them.

  • 117.
  • At 04:09 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Alwyn Jones wrote:

One thing that is essential for the well-being of children today (I hate the use of the word kids!) is discipline. Unfortunately that, in many instances, is sadly lacking.

  • 118.
  • At 04:11 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Robert Peacock wrote:

You ask for one thing, but there must be at least two: after giving them love, teach them self discipline by example

  • 119.
  • At 04:11 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Tom Gill wrote:

I'm sorry but I'm afraid this is going to sound a bit dated, but whether you're from the West, East, North, or South, happiness comes from being loved and reasurred that you mean something to those around you. And that applies to adults too.

  • 120.
  • At 04:12 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Kev Wood wrote:

Boundaries are vital but, as they grow older, young people also need the opportunity to make and take increasing responsibility for their own decisions.

We should also not forget that young people who are looked after by local authorities and many of those who end up serving custodial sentences may need considerable extra support to overcome the disadvantage and social exclusion that they are likely to have experienced. Not every young person has a good experience of childhood or a supportive carer to turn to.

  • 121.
  • At 04:14 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • nicky wilson wrote:

The most important thing a child needs is a loving family and their loving birth mother and father.

The long term longitudinal US study into children published 2 yrs ago found that children would perform about 40% less well than their IQ would predict within their school, and even allowing for the fact that divorce 'costs' parents financially about a 30% drop in net after tax income and a far greater 70% drop in REAL DISPOSABLE disposable income after paying for the key basics of life (namely basic food, heating, water, rent and property taxes).

In other words EVEN factoring in the drop of income (and often putting families into poverty) children are PERMANENTLY damaged by their reduced academic outcomes...

Add in the increased risks of depression, suicide etc and their own much greater risks of their own divorce, their increased likelihood of criminality, then clearly the effects on the children of divorce are IMMENSE.

But no grasping divorce lawyer will EVER tell their customers this truth, will they?

Sadly divorce lawyers survive on making most families impoverished

The parents, usually a mother in her mid life crisis, are fooled the whole way into this 'chasm of eternal failure' for their children and themselves...

  • 122.
  • At 04:17 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • maureen fothergill wrote:

a child needs BOUNDARIES love and most important of all your time
maureen . fothergill. birmingham

  • 123.
  • At 04:18 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Amy Ana Maria wrote:

In my opinion+ socially & scientifically tested, 4 centuries tested(the Catholic Church in UK, as well).
The perfect children will be the members of a healthy+ wealthy+ intellectual+ "old-rooted" family.
A familiy which has kept its reputation + its name+ its connections throughout the history, in the time.

  • 124.
  • At 04:19 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Unconditional love & stability. Children don't handle sudden changes in their circumstances well. Knowing they are loved and that they have an assured place in the world gives them the bedrock to build happy and productive lives.

  • 125.
  • At 04:19 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sandra Sedgwick wrote:

All three are important but having a loving home is a priority. Children deserve more than being shoved off to child minders or returning home to an empty house after school.One parent should be there for the child/children whilst they are growing up, otherwise just have a dog.

  • 126.
  • At 04:20 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Ziya wrote:

Obviously the thing that children need and want most is: love. In these ‘modern times’, it’s important to add that in order for children to grow into healthy, loving (and truly happy)human beings; they need an atmosphere of purity that protects and preserves the innate innocence they are born with. Purity and innocence are under attack in the West. This attack comes from a multitude of directions and has escalated to such a level that serious manifestations seem not to be recognised as a problem. An example from the media is publications like the ‘Sun’ newspaper. We talk about environmental pollution, but seem not to recognise the ‘inner pollution’ caused by such sources causes untold damage to society. If the innocence and purity of our children is not recognised as the basis of our tomorrows, our nation may be increasingly populated by individuals with mental and emotional problems; and who live self-destructive lifestyles.

  • 127.
  • At 04:21 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sandra Sedgwick wrote:

All three are important but having a loving home is a priority. Children deserve more than being shoved off to child minders or returning home to an empty house after school.One parent should be there for the child/children whilst they are growing up, otherwise just have a dog.

  • 128.
  • At 04:22 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Rach wrote:

At the risk of sounding insipid, all they need is LOVE.
But of course if a child is truly loved, all of the above is encompassed in it. Loving a child means wanting the best for him/her, which obviously means endevouring to give them a suitable education, health provision etc. It also means raising them to respect others feelings and beliefs so as to be well-liked and accepted into society.

  • 129.
  • At 04:23 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Elias Aliferis wrote:

Two things...LOVE and ATTENTION !

  • 130.
  • At 04:24 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Carol Courtney wrote:

A strong loving family is very important. Being firm to our children & always showing them that we love them. Our daughter who is 33 years of age wrote to us recently thanking us for her upbringing & wrote "Thankyou for saying No sometimes"

  • 131.
  • At 04:24 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Martin Forbes wrote:

To maintain/retain a 'to be' mindset - not a 'to have' one.
Retain a sense of wonder through an appreciation of nature/the great outdoors.

  • 132.
  • At 04:24 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • David Wood wrote:

Genuine love and affection

  • 133.
  • At 04:26 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Elias Aliferis wrote:

Two things...LOVE and ATTENTION !

  • 134.
  • At 04:29 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Nadia Shehadeh wrote:

I think children need to feel they are growing up in a secure as well as a loving environment above all in order to thrive and grow into happy adults

  • 135.
  • At 04:30 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Waring wrote:

A familiy environment that is loving, inclusive, open, honest, hardworking and happy; that is, somewhere where they can learn a good value system and develop into happy people that can at least cope with, and preferably enjoy, the best and worst that the world (humanity and and other animals) can throw at them.

  • 136.
  • At 04:34 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Jenner wrote:

Nothing can make a child happy as such. A child can only grow into a happy person by knowing that they belong to a family, a community and a culture that care sufficiently about the future well-being of all children, without exception, that they are willing to do whatever it takes to bring this goal about.

  • 137.
  • At 04:35 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Penny August wrote:

I believe self-confidence is the one thing that will make a child happy. In order to be self-confident, a child must feel wanted and loved and know his or her boundaries. Beyond that, I believe each child has an area in which they excel and are very interested in. If they are encouraged and helped to pursue their particular talent (whether it be an interest in art, music, motorcycles, waste management or vacuum cleaners), they will blossom and be happy.

  • 138.
  • At 04:36 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Peter T wrote:

Umdoubtedly it is to have a happy and secure childhood. Nothing else comes anywhere near as important as that.

  • 139.
  • At 04:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Michael Browne wrote:

Happy children are children who have a loving and firm discipline introduced into their lives, and who understand the parameters of good behaviour i.e. how to act and just how far they are permitted to go in their behaviour. They are children who are taught to have respect for their elders and for societal authority - teachers, policemen,hospital staff,bus and train conductors etc.They are children who have been taught the precepts and morals of a faith system, such as the Ten Commandments or Sermon on the Mount of the Christian faith. But above all they are children who are loved, cared for, and protected by a stable father and mother relationship, and not abandoned to their own will and ways.

  • 140.
  • At 04:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Bohdan Rymarenko wrote:

Without a doubt, a stable family is essential for happiness. We at Hope and Homes for Children [UK] give hope and homes to orphans [and street children] in Africa and Eastern Europe]. The results are phenomenal!

  • 141.
  • At 04:38 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sue Sanders wrote:

Tackle all forms of prejudice particularly homophobia, if schools are safe for our young LGBT people regardless of their ehnicity, faith, gender or if they have a disabilty or not then our schools and institutions wil be safe for all.

  • 142.
  • At 04:38 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • J. Watson wrote:

Many of the suggestions are good answers, but only in the right context. For example, I was raised by a mother and father who are still married for nearly 60 years now. Our home was filled with anger and fighting and resentment and abuse. So, no, growing up with opposite-gendered parents in an intact marriage isn't automatically the answer. If you look at all definitions of the word, I would say "security" really does encompass what you're asking for. Security means safety, boundaries, the ability to venture out and have some place to return, freedom from hunger, violence and abuse, etc.

  • 143.
  • At 04:40 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Bohdan Rymarenko wrote:

Without a doubt, a stable family is essential for happiness. We at Hope and Homes for Children [UK] give hope and homes to orphans [and street children] in Africa and Eastern Europe]. The results are phenomenal!

  • 144.
  • At 04:48 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • annie wrote:


  • 145.
  • At 04:50 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • angie wrote:

The one most important thing for a child is living in a loving environment

  • 146.
  • At 04:56 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mel Forster wrote:

Children first and foremost need love from day 1. Parents split up for many vaild reasons and all too often one of the parents, stops any contact with the children from the other parent. This is a selfish, evil thing to do. Children , since time began, look to Mum to be there for the Mum things and Dad's for the Dad things. However, both parents can love the children equally, therefore if a parent is stopped from seeing the child, by the other bitter parent, the law should be changed so this is not allowed! 9 out 10 children, in these cases will go off the rails. Who's to blame? Many people who think they know whats's best for a child. And the parent who carries out this evil act of stopping contact.

  • 147.
  • At 04:56 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Germaine Heeren wrote:

Agree with 2. Our kids enjoy excellent schools and health care but they are little scared birds in golden cages. They pay the toll for the rat race to unlimited access to material things. Their stressed parents, often split up, have little time. Loving grandparents live far away. The streets belong to the cars. Playgrounds tend to be sterile and unmanaged open spaces for unprogrammed free exploration, for developing creativity and social skills,are too few and perceived as dangerous. Often without siblings they have their toys computers and playstations as only company. Is it surprising that some turn against an environment alien to them?

  • 148.
  • At 04:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Lyn wrote:

Having worked with children for many years I think the happiest children are those who come from a happy home with two parents. I know that this is not always possible. However, single Mothers who set out to have more and more children, because the more children one has the more money one can claim. often produce angry, disaffected children.

  • 149.
  • At 04:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Nina Hansbury wrote:

The children at the school I teach in are happy with strict but loving boundaries. That security of knowing that no tolerance of disrespect from them to us or us to them or them to each other works! Our school is genuinely a happy place to be. It sounds corny, but each child values each other child for themselves. As for me, I regard it a privilege to be part of their lives, if only for a short while and it is my job to find the good or'God' in every one of them.

  • 150.
  • At 04:59 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Cohen wrote:

Good dentistry and soft toilet paper.

  • 151.
  • At 05:03 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Rita N Moose wrote:

RESPECT. It's hard to ignore the obvious requirements for a decent education and access to adequate healthcare but for me RESPECT for the individual is essential - even in infancy. If we can treat children with respect - even through the dependant years - then I believe they can live more happily through all life's necessary drama's. Largely because they will have learned to act with respectfully towards others and themselves.

  • 152.
  • At 05:04 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sebastian De Carss wrote:

Dearest, Colleagues.

I hope my legal work in bringing an Civil Court Case Verse Dr Barnardo's Charity The Old Bishop Palace. Ripon . Will give time to heal the survivors and Victims from the injustics of thier childhood and example to others in the Charity care systems and bring some happiness for tham to understand the care systems are responsible for Vulnerable children at the of the day. I hope this will never happen again to any Vulnerable Children In Care system As now the Government is bringing in European Laws.

I give my thanks to UNICEF for thier excellent work as their are there for the prection and happiness to children World Wide .

My heart gos out for happiness to all children to live a happy childhood, wherever their are in The World.

Ex; Child Migrant 1960s
Sebastian J E De Carss

  • 153.
  • At 05:07 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • JOHN GILBERT wrote:

A loving stable family environment with strong caring values.

It is very interesting topic. I have done some piece of research on mothers and children health during my post-graduate study and have got some to say from the outcome of my conclusion.

Children are very important asset of the society as they are the foundation of our futurity;if we give them chance, regardless of their regional variation.

In this increasingly globalising and technologically sophisticating world with their out comes (evaporating socially accpeted ways of lives and values) the need to have a stable family will play crucial role to make children happy as does social cohesion.

If these are not restored, millions of legislations and unnecessarily manipulations of the natural order doesn't create happiness! Restore the lost and forgotten values and family and social cohesion to save the generation!! Otherwise, we may find destorted world after a century!

Love and Peace to you all!
D. Natie, Edinburgh

  • 155.
  • At 05:16 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • unobe joe wrote:

love alone is not enough to make our children happy,but firm discipline and uprightness will give them courage,confidence and hope,in such an atmophere they will be happy.

  • 156.
  • At 05:17 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Andrew Green wrote:

A loving family who talk, play and take an interest in their child, it does not have to be expensive, games, walks, simple things are the basis for a well rounded happy and secure child having confidence in his/herself because of the support from their parents and the environment they grow up in, does not have to posh, money thrown at them, just basic simple stuff like time. Many people have children because "its what you do at that time in your life", but they are truly for life and not just for christmas!. Children are the greatest gift loving parents can have, but the most time consuming and draining, many are not prepared for this or the sacrifice involved, especially in todays world and are all to easily bought and occupied out of the way of parents, family with t.v. in rooms or P.C.'s, then wonder why they end uncommuicative or disenfranchised, not eating together all form part of a happy childhood, its the hardest and best job anybody can have, try and do it well, you affecting someones life and future after all.

  • 157.
  • At 05:19 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Honor wrote:

Security.. provided by a loving family. Followed very closely by providing positive opportunities for development.

  • 158.
  • At 05:20 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

Eating what they like!

  • 159.
  • At 05:27 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • James Bell Craig wrote:

The question has to be considered in the context that all other factors are satisfactory and equal. What factor would give the greatest benefit to the average child in the long term? That factor has to be "an excellent education" in its widest sense.

  • 160.
  • At 05:31 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Michel Ikamba wrote:

Family's love is absolutely the one thing that development and high technology cannot purchase. From my experience as a father, in many occasions my son gets sick when he stays longer at friends or relatives. And as soon as my wife and I take him home, he gets healed from things like temperature, cough, etc. There must be a psychological link between parents' presence and kids mood. Kids can't express it but they like being in papa's and mama's hands.

  • 161.
  • At 05:31 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jeff Tarnue wrote:

Hi News Night,

What is best for a child and what makes any child happy in my own view is a good education. I say this to mean that, most adults in the country I live, especially a nation just from war, believe that giving your child/children a better education is the most important thing in life they can boast of. I grew up in a family that never took education as a priority. As the result, for those of us educated members of the family have all the burden caring fr the children of our siblings, educating and even clothing them. You have your own kids to care for. You can't do it for yours alone here. If children, especially those in third-world countries are well educated, burdens on other members of the family will be reduced. Thanks.

  • 162.
  • At 05:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • muhammedsanni alaya wrote:

the most important things that make children happy are material things expecially clothes, shoes, wrist watch,school materials etc. taking them to some very interesting places also add to their happiness in which they will go with their parent's car such as zoo, shows etc. all these, doing it for them automatically show sign of love and caring to them. finally , giving adequate variety of foods at different times will ginger them a lot.

  • 163.
  • At 05:36 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • J Boronte wrote:

A child needs a happy, loving and secure family life.

  • 164.
  • At 05:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

A stable, loving, harmonious family that can spend the necessary time required by children to help them grow into happy respectful adults. Too many parents don't spend enough time with their children - parents reap what they sow. Material goods will never take the place of emotional security given by parents that support and take an interest in their children.

Getting a good education also depends on parents giving the child and teacher the support they need to help achieve the best results.

  • 165.
  • At 05:43 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • muhammedsanni alaya wrote:

to much pressure should not be exerted on them such in away that they will be over streesed. they should only allow them to express themselves and be guided by assisting in that direction. all what will make them be free should be provided for them so they can able accoplish whatever they intented to do. all of the above is to allow them to discover their potentials and know who they are as a someone that can influence and have influentials.

  • 166.
  • At 05:44 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Will wrote:

Living without fear. Definitely the most important thing, followed swiftly by happiness. The problem with fear is, because of our poor evolutionary background, it generally begats more fear and then aggression, depression and violence.

  • 167.
  • At 05:50 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Ann wrote:

A loving supportive family.

  • 168.
  • At 05:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • mamta kash wrote:

Support and guidance of a caring and loving family

  • 169.
  • At 06:04 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Judy Rose wrote:

Children need love and attention more than anything else. But access to good healthcare is very important too, as no amount of care and time will keep a child alive in certain areas of the world, and lack of education can be similarly destructive.

  • 170.
  • At 06:07 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • David Stockdale wrote:

Children need love and security and to know that whatever happens their parents are there for them at all times. They must be reared in a home environment that leaves them in no doubt whatsoever that they can rely on their parents implicitly. They must know clearly the reasonable and logical boundaries that their parents set for them and encourage them to accept as part of the basic standards for self accountability, respect for others, the need and reason for working to achieve their own objectives and above all to be resposible for themselves.
Their parents must not be afraid of becoming unpopular at those times when children cannot always see that what you are doing for them is in their best interest in the long term.
Parents have to be firm and loving and set goals for them that appear to be just beyond their reach.
Many of todays problems with children are caused by the inadequacy of their parents who have failed to set the necessary standards and guidance for them.
The "Nanny State" environment is creating a nation of people who think that all their needs and problems can be answered by National Provision created by government.
A strong nation is one that is made up of independent families who are determined to
make provision for themselves.
It is in a loving and caring home environment where the basic laws for life and success are laid down and so many parents are not shouldering this responsibility today.
Children should be recognised and nurtured as children according to their age and ability and not expected to be "young adults".
They like to think that they are and there is nothing unusual in that but parents must not leave them to handle situations that they are not mature enough to deal with

  • 171.
  • At 06:08 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • David Stockdale wrote:

Children need love and security and to know that whatever happens their parents are there for them at all times. They must be reared in a home environment that leaves them in no doubt whatsoever that they can rely on their parents implicitly. They must know clearly the reasonable and logical boundaries that their parents set for them and encourage them to accept as part of the basic standards for self accountability, respect for others, the need and reason for working to achieve their own objectives and above all to be resposible for themselves.
Their parents must not be afraid of becoming unpopular at those times when children cannot always see that what you are doing for them is in their best interest in the long term.
Parents have to be firm and loving and set goals for them that appear to be just beyond their reach.
Many of todays problems with children are caused by the inadequacy of their parents who have failed to set the necessary standards and guidance for them.
The "Nanny State" environment is creating a nation of people who think that all their needs and problems can be answered by National Provision created by government.
A strong nation is one that is made up of independent families who are determined to
make provision for themselves.
It is in a loving and caring home environment where the basic laws for life and success are laid down and so many parents are not shouldering this responsibility today.
Children should be recognised and nurtured as children according to their age and ability and not expected to be "young adults".
They like to think that they are and there is nothing unusual in that but parents must not leave them to handle situations that they are not mature enough to deal with

  • 172.
  • At 06:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Anthea Stoneham wrote:

It may be exremely old fashioned but in my view the most important thing for a happy childhood is love expressed to all members of the family in equal amounts. By this i mean demonstably by the parents to each other and then to the children, so that the children learn to love and respect their parents and then each other.

  • 173.
  • At 06:12 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • ed white wrote:

spending time with your children and being really interested in them as people

  • 174.
  • At 06:27 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Michelle Owen wrote:

I think that this goverment should replace income support for stay at home parents with say a parental allowance and parenting classes. Why should the goverment encourage single parents back to work when it would be benificial to families and society to value parenthood as a full time job and pay a decent wage for it. Often children want to spend time with parents not childminder. After all todays children are tomorrows workforce so shouldn't we look after them?

  • 175.
  • At 06:29 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • amir wrote:

P E A C E.

Subtract the content of our brains, and we are nothing more than vegetables. It is what we write into the tabula rasa of a child's mind that determines his happiness -- or lack thereof. What material things do, when used wisely -- is to ease mental enrichment.

  • 177.
  • At 06:48 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Ms M Knight wrote:

I grew up in a boarding school run by nuns. My father abandoned us and my mother had to work to provide for us. She did very well and we never lack of anything, good holidays, good outings and good clothes.

The thing I have missed the most is having a family, a father and a husband to support us not just financially but emotionally, that is what I would like for my children, not material things, but love, care and understanding, is what really matters in life.

  • 178.
  • At 06:49 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Clive Upton wrote:

Knowing that they are loved - by people, and by God.

  • 179.
  • At 07:07 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Kannan Meenakshisundaram Sivasubbu Thevar wrote:

Values!! The most important thing in anybody's life is what one imbibe and inherit from elders(namely parents,grand parents,Teachers and brother and sisters and also the crowed around them)Simply all these should get them in stream line to be in good Physical, mental and social well being.

  • 180.
  • At 07:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Michael Harris wrote:

Children need to feel safe, loved and wanted.

  • 181.
  • At 07:19 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Lesley Boatwright wrote:

Comprehending love AND boundaries, and the sure knowledge that the boundaries are set there by love, so that the loving group of which the children are part are all safe within its folds. But the trouble comes when a lively child tests the boundaries - as they will. The adults must know how to deal with that without shouting. So another essential thing a child needs is a calm adult in charge.

  • 182.
  • At 07:20 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mhadf wrote:

What keeps them on the straight and narrow is a loving father aswell as mother

  • 183.
  • At 07:20 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jessica Cross wrote:

We need to teach out children how to be members of society, as a teacher the amount of abuse and bad manners I receive from children is shocking simply because children these days believe everything is about them and their possessions the only way we can improve this situation is the teach children what it means to be a good person inside and that what you own doesn't define what you are inside.

  • 184.
  • At 07:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mrs Susan C Carson wrote:

Good question, I would say that the most important aspect is to have a loving family, the other points are valid but the family always comes first for me

When I was 4 months pregnant my husband left. He never supported us and we did not hear about him until 20 years later when my son received a letter informing him of his father's death in another town.

I always worked and over the years managed to save to buy our home. When my son was a teenager there was such a hoo-ha in certain newspapers about lone mothers that I felt so guilty. When I apologised to my son for any mistakes I may have made, he laughed, gave me a big hug and said, 'But I love having a wacky mother!'

  • 186.
  • At 08:03 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Sue Arkell wrote:

Children need all those things but the most important thing is a close and loving extended family. When all else fails, education, health and so on, then the family can still win through together.

  • 187.
  • At 08:17 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Anthony Carr wrote:

To be happy children need to know the limits of their freedom to do any activity. They have to learn that other people are affected by their impulses. Lack of consideration for others (including their parents) must be learnt. Without this learning they will turn into the unpleasant brats that we see so often nowadays.

  • 188.
  • At 08:26 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Ann wrote:

The one thing I believe is important for children is a Goalpost which only sways but does not move. Parameters are essential for children, their worth and self confidence and happiness all are connected.

  • 189.
  • At 08:27 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Anthony Carr wrote:

Children should know that there are limits to their freedoms. They must consider their parents,siblings and others. Selfishness is quite natural but should be under their own control.

  • 190.
  • At 08:53 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Chris Honsinger wrote:

Bringing up our two children who are now 22 and 18, we would say that a sense of personal achievement is what makes them happiest, and knowing that they have our full and unconditional support in whatever they do. The parameters of socially acceptable behaviour have been clearly marked since the beginning, which we feel gives a sense of security. Telling them that they are loved every single day, so that when tough decisions have to be taken, they know that it is done out of love - sounds corny but it works! And being totally involved in their lives and they in ours - in other words, the old-fashioned unit has worked well for us.

  • 191.
  • At 08:57 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

The break down of society and its boundaries, family units, extreme liberalism and materialism is creating an epidemic of unhappiness and anxiety in the whole developed world. We need to look less after our own self interests and more at each others, starting with our children. Other wise we will see a continued trend in this bleak direction.

  • 192.
  • At 09:04 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Siobhan Gilmour wrote:

Children need understanding

  • 193.
  • At 09:44 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Aidan Condie wrote:

Children need a loving family. And it is the family that our politicians, egged on by a PC media, are trying to kill.

  • 194.
  • At 09:45 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • angela stewart wrote:

Faith, Hope and Love. And the greatest of these is LOVE.
Everything else will follow, if our children have LOVE IN THEIR HEARTS.

  • 195.
  • At 10:35 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Frank Hudson wrote:

Depends entirely on the child and the environs through which it passes during childhood. Then again one needs to define the period referred to as 'childhood'. Some grow up very quickly and some don't.

Happiness cannot be manufactured or concocted and then served to the child like some magical potion. If only life were so easy!

Observe the kicking, squealing, screaming tantrums of many Western youngsters in cafes, shopping malls and elsewhere - who want for absolutely nothing in material terms -yet are being ruined by kindness: then compare this image with the humble serenity and smiling faces of those in other countries who have absolutely nothing but still exude a happy state of mind in spades.

Searching for 'the most important thing' is a non-starter simply because it will vary from child to child.

Every single problem on the planet revolves around two factors - Balance and Number.

  • 196.
  • At 10:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Fiona Roseveare wrote:

Only one this is extremely hard I have four children whom I adore, they are not perfect children by any means but I have the utmost respect for them. I think the one thing that probably rates above all others is consistency. It is very interesting that this debate is happening on the day they screened "never did me any harm" Channel 4. Of course parenting cannot be summed up in one word children need love, compassion, inclusion and fantastic role models. We breed children with material expectation, and that everything can be solved on a credit card. Our values are completely the wrong way round.

  • 197.
  • At 10:48 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • N.Godden wrote:

I find it surprising that UK governments look towards the USA for policy initiatives that affect Children and the wider society.

Why would we look to one of the worlds most violent and socially divided countries is a constant worry for me. Surely we should be looking to countries built on the basis of respect and family values (Japan for example).

As the country that most closely follows America, is it really a surprise to see the US and the UK at the bottom of the list?

  • 198.
  • At 10:52 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Anna Nash-Steer wrote:

I find the main problem with children today is that they are not brought up by their parents. As a mother to a one year old girl I have met a number of new mothers and only know of one other who is not returning to work. Why is the government not working toencouage mums o stay at home. For most it is not feasible, for us it is a struggle but we found it so important that we foresake other things- many people are so materialistic that they find money more important than raising their children, how did our priorities go so horribly wrong?

  • 199.
  • At 10:52 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Joan Feakes wrote:

Nobody is parenting!

The most important job anyone can do is look after the children but every new mum is encouraged to go back to work and leave the child with a minder, in a nursery etc where someone is looking after them for money, not because they are interested in their wellbeing

Every child is entitled to be reared by its parents so let's encourage mums (or dads) to stay at home and look after the kids!!!

  • 200.
  • At 10:52 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • patricia shirley hillman wrote:

What a reflection on our education system, when the foreign children (I believe they were Dutch) spoke better English than our own home-grown variety....! Children are not taught properly anymore. They are certainly not corrected in anything they say or do.

  • 201.
  • At 10:53 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • ali oneale wrote:

Children need a parent's time. The most important thing is to be loved.

  • 202.
  • At 10:54 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jennifer wrote:

Young people need what they always have needed, boundaries so that they can learn that society at large will have boundaries upon their life in the future and the ability to develop as an individual, so that they can learn as well as receive respect from society.

  • 203.
  • At 10:56 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Dawn wrote:

Fantastic programme. The key to breakdown in respect for each other and support for each other is the breakdown of community. Children and young people's lives only reflect the the lives of adults.

The Government is making efforts to get single parents into work early. Will this not exacerbate rather than help develop contact between the parent and child. Absent parents may be a major part of the problem, although the quality of contact has to be considered too.

  • 205.
  • At 10:57 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Gareth Molyneux wrote:

I really wish people would STOP blaming children for everything.
I am 17, and believe that just because I am a teenager, I have a stigma attached to me, just because of my age.
The problem is, I would never hurt a fly. I really cannot understand why every child, and, in fact, every person under 18, is classed as a 'yob' and a 'thug'.
I do feel the media has a lot to answer to, due to the fact that every article about teenagers is ALWAYS about bad things!
For example, I am trying to launch a business, and I would love to get press coverage on this, however, I have simply been ignored by so many people, but it is so interesting STILL to see articles about "yob culture" in the papers, on the news, and on the radio.

Do you not think that maybe it's time to stop blaming children for almost everything? Maybe it's not us, and in fact that it's the parental influence, and stigmas being attached to us DUE to the media?

I would be very interested in any comments in response to this.

  • 206.
  • At 10:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jan Vallance wrote:

Over the past year my home has been consistently targeted by youths in a variety of vandalistic attacks including graffiti, stealing my son's bike, then vandalising the replacement because they couldnt steal it, damaging my car, stealing my sister's car, damaging my brother and brother in laws' cars,throwing eggs at my windows. Why? Because I live in a corner house, no other reason. They are local lads. No..local hooligans. The police know who they are but without EVIDENCE they cannot act. On Xmas Eve a wheelie bin was thrown from the road above into my back garden cracking my patio. Two very pleasant policemen came to see me. Their response?? "We can do's the culture is passed down from generation to generation." There is no such thing as bad kids..just bad parents...where are the common decent values of caring for your fellow man and woman? This country is a very sad reflection of greed, selfishness and unhappy adults breeding unhappy kids.

  • 207.
  • At 10:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Tony griffiths wrote:

Inner confidence. As an example, where did the following happen late last year? An early-morning train fills up with secondary children commuting to school. The young people talk to each other, listen to their iPods and work on their laptops. At the next station more children get on – they greet each other with smiles and handshakes; several speak to me as they pass saying “Good morning, sir.” The compartment is full, at the next station several adults join the carriage; without a moment’s hesitation several children stand to offer them seats. Every child reflects the influence of the orderly, well-behaved people whom they meet every day – yet appeared relaxed, friendly and confidant. These are children secure in their society, and their place within it. Switzerland.

  • 208.
  • At 10:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • francesca wrote:

I think young people need to grow up in a environment where both mathernal and paternal figures are present.
I also think parent should be made responsible for their childrens' actions.

i am a teenager, and i think that there should e more of a reward system than punishment. we get threatened with ASBO's but there is no reward for model behaviour. at my school, we can get a detention if we are spotted with our UNIFORM messy 10 times, but there is no reward for perfect uniform.

if there was a reward for model behaviour, teenagers (and children) who misbehave may want to stop, to reap the rewards.

  • 210.
  • At 11:00 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Support for parents from family and friends.

Somewhere around 80% of Italians never live more than 30 miles away from the paternal nest; this means when they bring up families they have their friends and family around to support them. It would be interesting to compare the unicef list with population movement information.

  • 211.
  • At 11:02 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • John wrote:

I believe that the lack of moral guidance, consumerism and projection of
wrong and sureal models that children look up to, result in this sad situation. Television is altering their understanding of reality and has replaced parenting as a source of guidance and measurement. Both parents having to work and spending less quality time with their kids is also a big factor.

  • 212.
  • At 11:03 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mark Janes wrote:

"Lead AND Love"

Clear boundaries

Walk the talk

Male AND Female role models.

I run a scout troop of 24 lads. Every term we ask them what they value and waht they want to see more of and less of in the troop. Clear rules, structure and fairness always come out high on the list.

  • 213.
  • At 11:05 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Frank Macdonald wrote:

I believe that if the UK as a whole did not send as much money out of the country to help other countries we would still have enough money in this country to allow us to fun a well balanced economy and social welfare and not have the poverty we suffer in the year 2007.

I see that as a fundamental failing in Government and one to which I challenge the Labour Government to look at and comment on?

  • 214.
  • At 11:05 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Bob H wrote:

How would a table of percentage of children attending fee-paying schools compare to the overall order? Do private schools reflect or contribute to the problem.

  • 215.
  • At 11:06 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • c barra wrote:

I took my children aged 4,7,11 to the park today. The only other kids there were two groups of boys aged about 12 years doing their own thing, fighting,playing football, they were causing no trouble but they were left to their own devices. There were no other young kids in the park. We came home and my mum came round she told me the local shopping centre was packed with kids out with their parents. No wonder our kids are fed up there is no fun in their lives!

  • 216.
  • At 11:06 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Cameron wrote:

The UK has the lowest success rates with children in the world and also has the highest numbers in care in Europe. There is a correlation and the problem (not the solution) is the interference of the State. The State should withdraw from family life and let families and society take its historical role.

  • 217.
  • At 11:07 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • adam marshall wrote:

as a scout leader, parent of three children19, 17 and 9, happily married for 25 years, and also a teacher in a good comfortable comprehensive school it seems to both my wife and I that time, love and boundaries (that you as parents know when to ease as you know your own children best) are the three major ingredients of success and happiness in a family. Time is the one thing that we cannot buy and the one thing that children cannot get enough of and there is no such thing as resctrited quality time. All these qualities give children the security to grow up confidently and self assuredly - never be afraid of your children - if you are then every one else should be too as they will know no boundaries.

  • 218.
  • At 11:08 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • MODUPE wrote:

I grew up in a family of 8 children and 3 cousins living in a 3 bedroom house. The smallest class I had growing up was 39 pupils, we never considered ourselves poor.. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH POVERTY IN FACT BRITISH CHILDREN HAVE TOO MUCH. The breakdown of family unit and absolute lack of discipline is the major problem here. Nobody tells anybody off just because....
It is a very big shame to the UK. Increasing social welfare encourages dependency which eventually leads to lack of ambition and erodes self worth!

  • 219.
  • At 11:08 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • skirm wrote:

Having a laugh. And getting to know this little spirit and showing a child what is lovable and admirable about them. They take that everywhere. It also means that when you have to tell them off they don't dissolve. Having enough money helps but don't rely on the community. "There is no such thing as society" is still reverberating today.

  • 220.
  • At 11:09 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • S Fitzsimons wrote:

Dr Sewell has spoken more commonsense tonight than any politician for the past ten years.
Boundaries of good and bad behaviour are essential and adults must be able to enforce them. A secure loving family makes this possible.

  • 221.
  • At 11:09 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

As a school teacher who works with young people i found the results from the UNICEF report quite sad but not really surprising.
I notice the panel on tonight's edition on Newsnight are all from secular backgrounds and believe that over the last 30 years at least it has been secular humanistic and liberal values that have both permeated and begun to destroy the fabric of our society especially through the family and children.
We are talking about emotional and spiritual poverty here - something that many churches and Christian social welfare organisations have been predicting for decades. What will reverse the situation is for individuals and families to return to Christian values that transform and enhance people's lives.
School teacher

  • 222.
  • At 11:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Nick Ille wrote:

Several reasons for this current situation:

1. TV, the top 2 watched programmes are both set in pubs and show the characters drinking on a daily basis and child actors who have zero respect for their parents. Criminalty and adultery also regular topics.

2. No discipline, No punishments, No Respect.

3. High number of Drug Addicted parents.

4. A minimum wage that is far too low for a country where the average house price is pushing 200k

5. Idiot programmes like Big Brother where youngsters look up to people like Jade Goody.

  • 223.
  • At 11:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Margaret Georgiadou wrote:

The whole country is suffering from poverty - spiritual poverty! Secular solutions will not resolve this.
Raise people's aspirations? To do what - join the army of service sector workers?

  • 224.
  • At 11:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Geraint wrote:

The government needs to do more to tackle child poverty, by an increasing the money in going to them in the welfare state and trying to adopt the sucessful model used in Scandanivan country. Of course, politicans are terrified to raise taxes and help others because the small minority of people that hold the swing vote, don't like it, in the Thatcherite "ME" Society we live in.

  • 225.
  • At 11:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mr D Taylor wrote:

Todays problems for children will not be solved by throwing any amount of money at them.
Children need to know where the boundries are in life and know that if they dont cross them they are protected.But please give Teachers and the police powers to enforce them

  • 226.
  • At 11:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Steve Hemingway wrote:

The families and single parents who I see don't have a computer so can't come out and say the obvious here. POVERTY POVERTY POVERTY

  • 227.
  • At 11:10 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mark C wrote:

On one hand what once could be considered under the appellation "children" is now re-cast under "young person". Corresponding to this is the way in which the market is blind to the "young person" and the legality of being "adult", ie, old enough to.. On the other hand, encouragement of "children" to be "young people" falls short on 2 counts. 1) "Young people" do not have the experience of time to "be" young people. 2) If society, (the adult 30something apologists) wish to deliver "young people" as such, then education of experience and not the apologist approaches of "risk prevention" must also be re-cast. Without, 2 classes of incongruent society will continue.

  • 228.
  • At 11:11 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • julia wrote:

ALL the previously mentioned home-life values and 'gifts' (unconditional love, advice, a sound board...)are IDEAL for a children to grow to their best potential and experienced about morally right and wrong conduct.
However, in schools (and I've worked in big inner city high schools for four years) why can't staff use physical constraint to stop a group of pupils fighting, or take out pupils from a classroom who display 'hay-wire' behavioural problems resulting from their family life problems. Society has normal teenagers sticking their head out to the public on buses, on the street and in school corridors saying 'Don't you DARE lay a finger on me- I know my rights - I'll ave you done.'result Their behavioural non-conformity is destroying the chance for teachers and the public to be respected. teach. When you've seen pupils hoard the corridors during lesson time, and act unthwarted by any adult, smthg is seriously wrong with what the law has given them.

  • 229.
  • At 11:11 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • matt macindoe wrote:

They problem with the governments approach to this is that they are trying to change people from the outside-in. Imposing more laws and penalties on a society will not change the people who make it up. A nation can only be changed by changing the attitudes of the individuals in it.

  • 230.
  • At 11:11 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • C.Brewis wrote:

I am a single parent. I have recently qualified from a degree. This has enabled me to get a great job, the down side of this is that i do not have that much time with my kids..... The point i would like to make is that i have got two great kids but despite my achievments as a parent, i have had more praise for passing my degree. We do not value parents and instead of realising the preasure parents are under to provide, we critise and devalue parents. Why is looked down upon to be a parent? I am proud to be a mother and if more people were allowed to have this sense of pride then maybe raising children would become easier and more people would see this as an achievment and let this pride 'rub off' on thier children.

  • 231.
  • At 11:11 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Julie Heath wrote:

Parents of all classes are not supported by the health service. After a (usually) poorly supported birth, parents are left to manage alone with little input from understaffed health visitors. Developmental checks have been minimised. School nurses do not see all children routinely on school entry (we are 88% understaffed at present) Children are starting in school with speech, language, developmental, behavioural problems and they are going unoticed by overstretched teachers. Some children can start school and have never used cutlery or a toilet. What chance do these children and their parents have?

  • 232.
  • At 11:12 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Love and stability in a family is important, as well as a good education.

But also the chance to experience life, like nature, and not just throwing money buy buying toys and technology to keep them busy. Spending time with them when they are young and taking an interest in what they like doing when they are older.

You can never expect schools and teachers to fulfil the role of a parent, schools are for education.

  • 233.
  • At 11:12 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jacqui Sanwell wrote:

This kind of debate is almost laughable. None of your "experts" are looking at the UK as a whole.

We live in a nation that........

has no legistlation against cruelty to the elderly - so what have we to look forward to - abuse? Children see this and react accordingly

has a fundamental class superiority complex that has not left us since the 50/60's - aristocracy looks down on the middle class, they look down on the working class, the working class look down on immigrants and so it goes on - division is occuring every single day in every single city and even migrates down to families

in education - we actually pay low wages to very good people to act as teaching assistants, to have the very same responsbilities as teachers without any financial reward and within many of the schools the very same people are not treated as equals despite having to take on the responsbility - do you honestly believe that children don't see this?

criminal behaviour is not always punished - when we see media claims that our prisons should not be taking any more "low" offenders and that they should be left in the community due to overcrowding - don't you think that children who are not in the safest of hands will not abuse this?

and finally parents - when you are paid wages that do not equate to house prices so that you can not move up the social scale, or council tax rises without seeing any real improvement for your money, when you can not afford to got work because child care is either not available or too expensive to cater for or you are concerned about leaving your children in the care of a stranger thay may have skipped the net because they came from abroad - don't you think children see how unfair the entire system is.

Get real Britain - we are sinking into a third world state and no-one is prepared to do a damn thing about it - except debate about of course.

  • 234.
  • At 11:12 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • marian culhane wrote:

The single most essential factor for a stable childhood is a stable family and friends unit. It is essential that the "culture" of condoning "single parenthood" (by which I mean single teenagers not widows/widowers as mentioned by the panel member this evening ) be discouraged. This culture has resulted in several generations of disastrous family units with history repeating itself time and time again. The media and in particular the glossy "Cosmopolitan" type magazines have a lot to answer for in their promotion of the "Me ME ME cult of the individual" which goes a long way to destroy communities and families with the disgraceful statistics we are hearing about this evening.

  • 235.
  • At 11:13 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • maggie hughes wrote:

i believe the ONE essential factor that todays children are deprived of is continual home support that follows on from a good education each day. as parents, guardians, teachers and carers of children, we should spend the valuable time we have going back to basics and devoting our time and efforts on making them the best people they can be. we need to focus on nuturing decent, valued and happy children, for the sake of tomorrow's world. bring back the days of a happy, healthy, innocent, well educated and memorable childhood - our children deserve nothing less.

  • 236.
  • At 11:14 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • chris wrote:

i agree with the comments tonight. however i would argue that the aspirations of children is increasingly based on the non-working class that is present in society today. people simply don't have to work for it anymore.
further more, my parents generation think this country is going to the dogs. my generation think it already has. no surprise the new generation are so messed up!

  • 237.
  • At 11:14 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Jane Agar wrote:

This is a very timely report. Look at the child abuse that has been allowed to happen by social services and the "12 and looking after the family" documentary. Two cases where families are neglecting or abusing their children. Social services, which are meant to be there if this happens seem to rather turn a blind eye due to pressures placed upon them by the government in more than one way. We also have a culture of "what happens behind closed doors is not our business" which means people turn a blind eye to situations that we should deal with. This is exacerbated by the fear of violence and accusations that could be made against them. The education system and our culture need to stress that there is a duty of care that we owe to everyone not just to ourselves. At the moment the people who yell the loudest get their way. Not the child who is being sent back to abusive parents because it's cheaper than keeping them safe. As for education we should be looking at improving the type of education that we offer our children from the day one. Not just trying to get everyone to university, it's not for everyone. Tactical thinking and questioning thought should be encouraged in all children at all ages.

  • 238.
  • At 11:14 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mary wrote:

I think children need to be brought up with moral values ie: religion, love and discipline.
Poverty has very little to do with it even though it is not nice, I brought up four children as a single parent and was very poor, three have now got very good jobs and the fourth is about to go to University and has been offered a place at Oxford if he gets 3 As so being a single parent does not matter if the parent is a good one and enforces good discipline and good manners in the child from the very beginning even making sure they never ever drop litter or use bad language from the age of one.
Then all other things follow on when they become teenagers.

  • 239.
  • At 11:14 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • M Quintero wrote:

I am a teacher and a behaviour management specialist, I have worked with children and young people in many settings for the past 27 years. I have taught at a secondary and primary level. I know and understand children, I have a genuine interest and love for the work I do with children. Listening to the debate makes me wonder because the issue is very complex. I believe in being genuine and honest with children, firm and no meaning no, and yes meaning, yes. No broken promises, a firm hand when needed. One of the problems we have in schools, is teachers wanting to be "pals" with the pupils. One can be a friend, but children need to know who are the adults in their relatiionships.
I am caring, but when I need to be firm, i am not afraid to be, I do know children do not like it and one of the problems is when a child goes and complains about you, instead of the head being supportive of you, they take the child's side and it is you who end up in trouble. children know this and use it to their advantage. I think that is so wrong. Children have taken teachers, parents and people in authority as a ramson and abuse the system. Because people are frightened of them. I have lost out big time on account of this.
The other issue and the most important one, is parents not taking their responsibility as they should. Some being too soft, others not being too interested, others outright bad examples. Watching the program on the public involvement in helping people in trouble, I was shocked to hear a boy's grandmother supporting her grandchild when he killed someone for trying to defend a girl from being abuse by this boy and his mates! Yes children should learn their social, moral and other skills at home!
Any way, |i have much to say on this matter and at present I am doing research for a report I am writing,which I intend to send it to the education Minister.

  • 240.
  • At 11:15 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

The contributors of the programme talked about flexibility of working. Whilst there does exist legistlation about this, in practice it does not work. The law only gives an employee the right to request flexible working. In practice, this translates to employers denying the request because of operational reasons.

We need to address the economic pressures, the lack of social responsibility and breakdown of morals. This is a huge ship to turn around and needs commitment from Governmount, Communities and parents.

  • 241.
  • At 11:15 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Peter ramsden wrote:

The Dr was absolutlely correct when he referred to the importance of extended family ie Aunts and Uncles.

Together with parents this portrays an unchallengeable group from a discipline point of view.

Todays society reflects the opposite, youths in gangs are unchallengeable by individual adults.

It was once the case that 'children are seen but not heard'. This was not cruel it reflected the childs position in the social structure.

Unfortunately the pendulum of 'power' has swung too far in favour of children/youths.

Children must be protected from abuse, but they should not be given carte blanche control and power over adults as is the case now.

  • 242.
  • At 11:16 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Maxina Vorpe wrote:

Children Watching soaps are believing that this is real life. This example is very damaging to the young. Reality TV showing bad behaviour is ok is not good. Celebrity culture is wrong.

  • 243.
  • At 11:17 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mrs J Ogdon wrote:

Children's unhappiness is the result of bad parenting. The schools are not the place to start but ALL parents: the government should introduce parenting classes for all parents of children because the schools are absolutely beleaguered by aggressive, verbally abusive parents; parents who complain at the slightest (often misunderstood) situation which does not suit the mood they are in and parents who think they have the right to speak to teachers and headteachers in whatever manner they wish and in front of children. Those children with behavioural problems in school and attention seeking behaviour are the result of parents who have no time for them in the evening. Children seek the love and attention of their parents.

  • 244.
  • At 11:18 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mrs Madness wrote:

Osborne is socially-illiterate.
He thinks the problem is with the last 10 years - 10 yr old kids who have been brought up under Noo Labour.

The real problem is with their parents who were brought up under the venal self-obsessed materialistic Conservative hegemony.

Get yourself some proper education, Ozzo.

  • 245.
  • At 11:18 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Ian Barnett wrote:

The fact that it has become politically incorrect even to suggest that single parenting might not be as effective as joint parenting says it all - we're afraid of facing the truth about ourselves.

I've seen the Uk transformed over the last twenty years into a selfish, materialistic society in which dubious concepts like 'self-fulfilment' are elevated to iconic status.

I'm afraid the evidence suggests that children respond to structure and boundaries and to parents who put their childrens' needs in front of their own.

Spend as much as you like on welfare and schools - the fault, dear Brutus, lies in us all

  • 246.
  • At 11:18 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Damien Magrou wrote:

I have heard a lot during the panel debate about boundaries. I left me with the feeling that the panel felt that what we lack in Britain for our children is some good old-fashioned disciplined parents and teachers and kids that are made to stop drinking and smoking and having sex.

Not that I think it is great that a great number of british children go around binge-drinking and smoking Tobacco or pot, but I think the panel has missed the very point that the UNICEF report tried to highlight! As one of the dutch girls says in the interview, dutch children can buy tobacco, alcohol and pot as easily, if not more easily, than british children. Yet fewer of them smoke! So good old fashioned parental discipline is not what can solve this!
And concerning teenage pregnancy, I think its link with teenage sex is only light. It is not up to the government OR up to society in general to decide whether to encourage or discourage sex amongst Britain's youth, these acts belong to them. However, it is our responsibility to dissuade teenage pregnancy, which is often the cause of great unhappyness for both Mother and Child. The one and only way to discourage teenage pregnancies without infringing upon teenagers' rights to have sex, is by promoting contraceptives, like once again they do in the Netherlands.

To get out of anti-social behaviour, Britain's youth needs to be treated more like responsible adults, and less like criminal kids.

  • 247.
  • At 11:18 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • rick fink wrote:

I think having a panel of experts again, discussing childrens behaviour is utterly the waste of time now, i feel that it doesnt need the panel to discuss these simple items about the deteriation of our childrens behaviour in our country, it has been happening for years allowing many children to do as they like say what they like and no one has bothered to stop them ,there are laws stopping there bad behaviour but they can basically do as they like and they have been for years , and now all of a sudden it has hit us, we have discovered how bad mannered they are how they frighten us, this could have been stopped many years ago, one of the things missing is love in the family ,marriage, and strong willed parents with good morals. Look at the way these childeren behave in the streets the public transport and even in the schools, one thing has been stopped is punishment by parents ,school teachers, etc. and this has been also continued with the way our laws have been changed for punishment too, nobody is frightened of the law because they know that if they injure another person they will not be put away for any length of time but just a short spell ,there is just nothing to deter these children they will never be frightened of any grown up as long as there is not the right up bringing for them. They need to be taught good behaviour,manners etc. I have spent the last five years trying to teach adults how to behave and the best people i have had have always been people from Europe where they seem to have proper morals and a better christian outlook on life, bothering about others rather than just themselves. This should be a crusade and everyone should be helping each other to make it work, i really feel that we have made a rod for our own backs now and its going to take more than the team on your panel and me to ever be able to bring it back the way children used to behave.

  • 248.
  • At 11:19 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Gareth Anderson wrote:

This was a seminal piece of programming. I am a Citizenship teacher at a Merseyside secondary school and could identify closely with much of what was said. I will be downloading and using the UNICEF report in my Citizenship lessons and asking my staff to do likewise. Is there any way of getting hold of a dvd or tape of tonight's programme, or at least Peter Marshall's excellent report? it would have a great impact in my school.

  • 249.
  • At 11:19 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Muhammed Isfan wrote:

This reports clearly indicates that our parents entered in to this vicious cycle which I am part of it with 3 children. Social, financial and economical pressures are overtaken the family, welfare and ethical values. The answer as clear as day and night through the Unisef report. Lets us pray and hope to work together to get out of this child cruelty.

  • 250.
  • At 11:19 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Nina Hansbury wrote:

Impressed with the quality of tonight's debate. Also impressed by the quality of the above e mails-enough to restore one's faith in humanity. Only one thing missing-my earlier e mail to you-wasn't it up to the mark?!
I wrote from the viewpoint of a teacher which, in the context of tonight's debate , seems rlevant. We do find at school that many of our Primary School children are 'in charge' of their parents at home and we have to undo the damage done by this type of parenting. How many of them would benefit from Supernanny! I would like to re-iterate that it doesn't take much to have happy kids!

  • 251.
  • At 11:19 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • clare wrote:

I agree that family, friends, boundaries and love are important. But on listening to the programme I think we are missing something.
The children of today are our support and care for the future, if we consider that perhaps we will treat them with a little more respect and kindness. I know of many people who have not had children of their own or whose kids have grown up who want nothing to do with kids and show no interest in them. In a small community this just would not happen and this ability to consider kids as seperate from us is very damaging. Everybody should be proud of them, encouraging them and engaging with them. I work in a school and this is what we do, I have children and this is what I aim to do for my kids and the other children in their school communities. There are people doing it and doing it really well but not enough.

  • 252.
  • At 11:20 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Adrian Stannard wrote:

As many people are saying, values are paramount to a child's upbringing, but this is a social issue that has propagated from the roots of our country - capitalism without balance. We need only look at the crises in housing - the obsession for a quick and easy buck by those who have already amassed a fortune, who then buy a portfolio of newly built properties in the hope that house prises will increase. Thanks to them first time buyers are living on the poverty line, and young professionals who would have been happy to take a lower paid career in medicine, teaching or research, are going for better paid private sector jobs just to keep a roof over their head. Meanwhile Gordon Brown continues to waste billions of tax payers money on botched PFI initiatives which simply mask the true cost of public spending (for example the wholsesale of tax offices which will now cost taxpayers at least 3.85bn for the next 20 yrs, double the cost of the state keeping and maintaining the premises). And with higher taxes and reduced public services (including the end of free higher education), we wonder why more people are living in poverty, and the welfare of our children has been sidelined.

A very interesting debate, I was shocked to see the Osborne, totally refuse to acknowledge how 17 years of Conservative informs the life of a 10 year. The parents of those 10 years old are a product of the government. The multi- problems they are there families experience in bad education/housing/employment/and their day to day environment is a result at pervious polices. But, to as answer the question we do start by listening and trusting young people. Find out the best way to interact and communicate to them, then we begin the journey to change, raising aspiration and producing more rounded and happier young people. The point we are living with unhappy children.

  • 254.
  • At 11:21 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mike Robinson wrote:

1) Teachers now cannot afford mortgages to buy a house in most if not all parts of England - they could when I went into teaching 40 years ago. It is obviously true now more than ever that exceptional teachers are needed to deal with the very difficult situations in schools: these teachers will not be forthcoming. The only solution to this problem is to attract exceptional teachers with very high salaries. Pay peanuts - get monkeys!
2) Students must feel that they have reasonable prospects of employment if they do work hard in school and college. Provide more training for skilled trades from the age of 16 or even less. Technical education has been the poor relation ever since Beveridge. Setting up a good system will require, however, a great deal of government money.
3) Too many students leave even university with few prospects of satisfying employment. Universities have a duty to respond more to the market, and not churn out loads of graduates who end up working in McDonalds.
4) Employers have largely contracted out of providing training for all but the few. This is not so in other countries, e.g Germany. Here, however, employers continually complain about the product of the educational system. They should put some money where their mouths are.

  • 255.
  • At 11:21 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Monica wrote:

Children need security. They need to be listened, loved and respected. Most children have no boundary. Parents need to understand that it is ok to tell their children off when they are wrong.It's the only way they will appreciate and understand appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

  • 256.
  • At 11:23 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • John Smith wrote:

I cannot believe no-one has mentioned EDUCATION (not necessarily schools which teach only want conformity and no self expression) as the fundamental reason for the breakdown in discipline in young people.
At school, are children encouraged to think for themselves and taught anything about respect for themselves or other people ?
Is it any wonder that there is such a lack of respect when children are not taught to respect themselves ?
There needs to be a shift towards life skills such as parenting, finances etc and away from the cr*p that does nothing to engage the attention of young people or prepare them for life in the real world, probably because this is exactly what the government wants....
A submissive, agnorant and uninformed pool of labour who are happy to perform the lowest paid roles for the benefit of the wider society.

  • 257.
  • At 11:24 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • david torpy wrote:

in large comprehensive schools, the children move from class to class all day carrying their heavy bags and clothes with them. They have no focus of belonging. The teachers come and go. Only a few teachers even know their name. They naturally make safety in small cliches. In a school where children are given a fixed class room with a form teacher there is structure and belonging to the whole class of pupils and through that to the wider society,

  • 258.
  • At 11:26 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Chris Scadeng wrote:

Having watched the Newsnight programme and heard reference to the importance of good parenting and help for parents to be good at the job, can someone please explain why the funding for parenting courses has been withdrawn.

Having been a single parent for 20 years, health visitor for 14 years and a lecturer in FE for 15 years I have a fairly good understanding of how parents need help to do well the most difficult job they will ever have to do.

This is really important.

Chris Scadeng

  • 259.
  • At 11:30 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Dr Vincent Mainey wrote:

So far on the Newsnight debate there has been no mention of the disasterous effect of poor nutrition. Time and again I have, via advice to parents on simple changes to nutrition, transformed children with antisocial/behavioural/learning problems.
The cost of this is zero(or negative) and the 'transformations'occur within two weeks. Basically we are still Mark 1 humans - convenience/fast foods bear no relation to our(ancestoral)nutritional needs. What would our ancestors recognise in the endless shelves of packaged processed junk in every supermarket. Nutrition is not the complete answer - but without sound nutrition all other measures are doomed to failure. This, as they say, is not rocket science. Complience is good because children like they way they feel on sound nutrition.

  • 260.
  • At 11:30 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Robert Hendry wrote:

The systematic dismantling of the traditional family over the last thirty years by successive governments but in particular this current labour administration egged on ny pc correct striving individualist have done much damage to UK society. It isnt just children who feel lost either. As I look around I see adults everywhere lost and miserable of all ages both middle class and working class.

Single parenting has been fully encouraged and we are now reaping the benefits of a lost generation of adults between the ages of 25-40 who are passing on their lack of social interaction skills to their own children. Many parents are to in love with their own egos, materialism and careers. The march toward decadence and individualism has been a disaster.

Im 35 and recently moved back to the UK after five years abroad. I really sense something is deeply wrong with the nations soul and its hurting badly.

We need to get back to strong family values, loyalty, respect, neighbourlyness, and of course shower our children with Love, not play stations.

  • 261.
  • At 11:30 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Rachel wrote:

Pointing fingers, aggressive body language, interupting, laughing, hoodies in shopping malls? young thugs on the bus? No, Jeremy Paxman interviewing his guests.
Forget one parent families or benefit dependency, what message is Newsnight giving children and young people?!

  • 262.
  • At 11:31 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Niamh wrote:

Overall children are not respected and cherished in the UK, our TVs are full of parenting programmes about controlling our kids through reward and punishment, the sticker chart the naughty step! Mr. Paxman's summary of the comments posted was that boundaries was a key theme, despite love being by far the main point raised. The collective focus should be on positively supporting the children in our communities take responsibility for their actions and confidently work towards realising their individual talents, in tandem with that society as a whole working to create the environment where this can happen.

  • 263.
  • At 11:31 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Albert Rea wrote:

What is strikingly obvious about British young people illustrated in the Newsnight debate when comparing the short contributions from Dutch and British teenagers is British young people's literate and intellectual poverty and the failure of the contributors to the debate to hook onto this is indicative of the problem. It is a cultural problem, not a poverty problem which has been encouraged by patterns of boom and bust, misguided educational reforms and basic adult dishonesty and lack of dignity. In the 1980's Alistair MacIntyre wrote a book called Beyond Virtue criticising a shift in values due to the pursuit of managerial expertise and the promotion of false disciplines enhancing the acquisition of status. The loss of public dignity illustrated by manipulated public responses - e.g.Hillsborough, Diana's funeral, cheap holidays to the Costas, football management (£7,000,000 to Sven !), televised National Lottery with fawning presenters etc. are all examples of national loss of values which consequentially is now reflected in British youth and throwing money at the problem in political gestures will only exacerbate it.

  • 264.
  • At 11:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Kate March wrote:

I believe that children need to know that they are loved, but expected to behave within a set of rules. I have worked in education for over 25 years and have noticed during that time that both pupils and their parents feel that rules are irrelevant, that children should have more 'rights' but no-one ever talks about the responsibilities that go with these rights. Teachers are constanlty criticised for not managing children but parents don't seem to be taking responsibility for ensuring that their children arrive in school correctly dressed and equipped and ready to learn. In many other countries teachers are treated with respect, as professionals; in Britain they are treated as overpaid child-minders and their professional judgements are ignored.

  • 265.
  • At 11:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Richard Downing wrote:

The single most significant issue is the absurdly expensive housing market unique (in European terms) in Britain that can only be sustained on dual incomes. This has imposed enormous pressure on mothers to "work" and has consequently totally devalued their vital role of nurturing children and maintaining communities. In effect women have through choice or economic imperative jettisoned their prime responsibilities. However the expression of this truth is now considered to be one of the last unspeakable "taboos".

  • 266.
  • At 11:32 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • T.Griffiths wrote:

As a pupil at an old fashioned grammar school in the 1970s I remember the contempt in which a large number of teachers were held. God knows what it is like now. It would help to introduce into schools people who naturally command respect. In bad schools, draw on retired policemen and NCOs to act as patrol officers. I suspect drastic action is needed to stamp on the behaviour of violent and disruptive pupils. Until you do that, school cannot be the safe haven it should be, nor can the problems of those disruptive pupils be addressed.

  • 267.
  • At 11:33 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Christina wrote:

It is striking that the vast majority of the posts so far contain a reference to the need of children for love. We all know the answer, so why aren't we doing it? Perhaps we don't know how? Love isn't a feeling it is a verb. It is created by living according to the human values which are inherent in every human being: Truth, Love, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-Violence.

Put these at the core of every school curriculum, make every school a loving environment and every parenting class a human values based class, and things can be transformed.

  • 268.
  • At 11:35 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • peter martin wrote:

A child needs love and boundaries within which it can thrive. All children will try and push the boundaries out but the more they do so the more unhappy they become.One sees it all the time where children winge and wine or perhaps throw a tantrum secure in the knowledge that they will get their own way in the end. 'No', no longer means no. It's as simple as that. The conseqences are that children grow up having little respect for adult authority.It always amazes me when one hears parents say they want to go on holiday to get away from the children! It really does sum up modern attitudes that many parents have these days.

  • 269.
  • At 11:36 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Vincent Mc Donnell wrote:

Love and time. Time to spend and play with a child. Neither of which costs anything.

  • 270.
  • At 11:36 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Malcolm Mort wrote:

Respect is fundamental to all relationships and feelings of worth. A lack of respect towards others and to our institutions is very prevalent in British society and is undermining and corrosive. This effect is tied in with the promotion of individualism from the previous government and by so many of our cruel, violent TV programmes. Aggressive TV and radio interviewers who just want to undermine and make small those they interrogate don't help either - sadly they are another manifestation of a society that is harsher, less friendly, less understanding, less trusting, less respectful.

  • 271.
  • At 11:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Somer Knight wrote:

How can a child develope into a full and useful member of society when the people teaching him both accedemicaly and about life in general, (i.e. Parents and teachers) have been limited in the amount of control that they may exercise over them by too much over protective legislation and over the top politcally correct thinking.
We then allow these children in turn to hav there own chilren while still not adults themselves and protect them from the reality of their responsibility by ensuring that they are more than adequality cared for by the state.
Thus the system perpetuates itself.

  • 272.
  • At 11:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Aine wrote:

Children need love,structure,the chance to play and be children and as many opportunities to learn as wide a range of skills as possible so that they can be confident and make their own choices full of hope and enjoy what they choose to do as adults

  • 273.
  • At 11:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Pete Davies wrote:

Just finished watching the program, interesting to hear one commentator state that there are now few apprentiships available to young people, to help them aspire to succeed, then hearing the Concervative MP state what happened 30yrs back has no effect now.
30yrs ago and to present date manufacturing jobs have become non existant,were most apprentiships began attached to night school and day release, here in the midlands there are now less manufactaring jobs than in India and Eastern Europe. Factories have closed as these jobs have moved to low pay high production countries. Given away by lack of support and conviction by consecutive Governments since the 80's. High tec, high skill high qualifications are now required to succeed in many industries, unless you want to work in a call centre, McDonalds or one of the low paid service industries so greatly loved by the Thatcher Gov, and carried on by New Labour. Both party Gov's have let not only the children down but the nation down on this issue.
New Labours answer to this is to turn the country into a nanny state where every one including our kids are guilty until proven inocent.
Shame on all MP's and Shame on all the PC brigade who have and now run this country.

  • 274.
  • At 11:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Julian Barker wrote:

A 180 degree shift in cultural orientation away from the USA and thinking of ourselves AS (child–respecting) EUROPEANS is the prerequisite to real change and needs to be fostered by news and entertainment media, government and home NGO's. This should NOT entail anti–americanism but rather to embrace the positive Scandinavialn, Latin, Germanic and other cultures whose culture we should share if we looked east rather than west, America at least has (for some) the advantage of wealth but for most is the reason that they are the closest to us in the UNICEF REPORT.

  • 275.
  • At 11:37 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • trevo wrote:

An all encompassing, less materialistic society, where all people have equal value, where they are not preyed on by marketing exercises trying to point the way to a false possession led nirvana. A society where their parents are not working long hours just to pay extortionate bills and mortgages etc and can therefore spend more time parenting and less time merely providing.

Sorry but this offer is no longer available in current capitalism.

  • 276.
  • At 11:38 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

The challenges faced by children today is an outcome of the loss of the word "society" far back in the late 70s to early 80s. We still use the word "society" today but in reality it does not exist. Parents traded their immediate society for more working hours to respond to econmic pressures. 26years down the road, we reap what we have sorn. I suggest we recreate our society and learn to care about those within it (including children), otherwise they will return to hunt us.

  • 277.
  • At 11:38 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Brendan Mc Mahon wrote:

Both government and people are responsible for creating this problem of child poverty.
The choice is ours. Do we want happiness for all with regard to Richard Layard's perspective?
Or do we want to continue focusing our lifeblood into achieving a higher economic standard living?
We can't have it both ways. This present way there will always be winners and losers.
Make your choice.

  • 278.
  • At 11:39 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • sara wrote:

I think about what children need and that is parents to be responsible for they children in all aspects of they lifes. I see in this time that parents have children then go and have more children. The goverment needs to make parents accountable for having children and our job to keep them safe, well and loved. But so any parents are left to deal with these on they own.

  • 279.
  • At 11:39 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Richard Smith wrote:

Interesting that the top five countries in the study (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Switzerland) all still have National Service.

I am convinced that the benefits of "boundaries"/discipline extend way beyond childhood, and ultimately have a profound affect on wider society

  • 280.
  • At 11:39 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Wright wrote:

Children spend most of their time at home and responsible, unselfish parenting is the single factor that determines how a child grows up and enters or rejects society. I did not wait for my children to go to school before they understood the difference between right and wrong or what is acceptable, responsible behaviour. Whilst some parents have no alternative but to go to work are we focusing on the wrong things by providing widespread childcare rather than nurturing the child in the home during the crucial early years. The breakdown of family life has brought about probably the most significant social change this country has witnessed and more must be done to re-establish the importance of the family unit. We cannot, as a society, continue abdicating our responsibility for children as has been done for the past 30 years.

  • 281.
  • At 11:40 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Derek wrote:

Children now know that they are not safe in British society. They are not safe in their own homes; bullies can intimidate them by means of mobile phones or the internet. Their parents cannot protect them from this. Schools cannot protect them from bullying. Teachers have as much fear opf the bullies as the pupils. The police cannot protect them. They do not have the time or resources, and often it seems, they lack the will. Government cannot protect them because they simply do not understand how bad it is in many communities in this country. The result is a growing misery.

  • 282.
  • At 11:44 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • iain smith wrote:

It al depends on having 2 loving and responsible parents

  • 283.
  • At 11:47 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Mark Glen Vero wrote:

The Labour Party focus on 'Child Poverty' and redistribution policies misses the point and is a bigger cause of the problem than a solution.
'Child Poverty' is multifactorial and not just about money as the Labour Party seem to think. George Osborne MP instils much more confidence than Jim Murphy MP.

  • 284.
  • At 11:48 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Elsie wrote:

My obsession is with the culture within which families and groups operate. Media needs to help change the whole culture and stop insulting our intelligence by turning so many programmes into near relations to jangly adverts. We can think difficult thoughts!
Competition and co-operation don't co-exist. Co-operation with your team against is very different from co-operation with all for.
Children get more publicity for bad behaviour than good. Suggesting they be listened to seems to cause panic in the ranks. They are in the more light hearted stage of their apprenticeship for adulthood. That should include learning respect (not fear) for themselves and each other.
I am ancient and think children get a raw deal and a poor example from their elders. Behave!

  • 285.
  • At 11:49 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Helen wrote:

Security - in all senses.
Secure in a loving family unit which makes time for the child.
Secure in school -(which is not so big that each child becomes anonymous and since only the loud, aggressive people get noticed children quickly learn that this is the way to behave)- so that talent and individuality may be fostered and valued.
Secure in the local community - where people look out for each other. This requires "respect" of authority and is the responsibility of everyone - perhaps media could take a lead?

  • 286.
  • At 11:49 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Karl Osborne wrote:

The capitalist free market and the unaccountable power of big business must be to blame for child poverty

  • 287.
  • At 11:51 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Julian Barker wrote:

One of the greatest existential dilemmas is an abundance of choice. A culture which actually makes a virtue of having multiple choices which are price–rich and value–poor will be a deeply disatisfied culture and will breed unhappy children. WHERE did we get this idea from, and how come other European nations didn't buy into it to the same extent?

  • 288.
  • At 11:53 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • John R Clague wrote:

Prof Al Aynsley Green will be well aware of the incidence of anaemia in pre school children in our UK inner city areas. It is said by many community based paediatricians to rival obesity as the most important challenge for our youngsters. Opportunistic measurement of haemoglobin would not only characterise the extent of the problem, but act as a marker of the effects of poverty.If the government is serious about eradicating child poverty over the coming period a reduction in anaemia could be used as a success marker for their overarching strategies.
In 1987 45% of a cohort of children in Bradford were anaemic by World Health Organisation criteria - In 2007 little has changed ! If anything the problem is worse now and still Government takes little interest - Anaemia is not a "sexy" subject!
An adjournment debate in the House of Commons Jan 25th 2005 set out the whole issue - 2 years later NO PROGRESS!!!

  • 289.
  • At 11:54 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • miss sharon lomax wrote:

The human rights act has prevented us as a country in being unable to be comfortable with any kind of disipline from the family home
which in turn goes onto schools,work,too the other scale criminals surely lose any human right as did their victim.
For EXAMPLE we provide in a young offenders institute an x box and television in their room if the criminal has behaved in 4 weeks. Great place eh fantastic punishment.
Tagging it shouldnt be an option.

And so on this leads onto being unable to uphold any bounderies one has made. The child very quickly works this to their own advantage.

Through the childs life into adulthood ect.
This is what i belive is the tree stump. The branches onto this tree representing the rest of the problems this country is confronted with.
answer: you cut at the tree stump(human right act needs replenishing) and in turn the branches will reform

  • 290.
  • At 11:55 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Gareth Richard wrote:

In Italy and France, you see whole extended families eating together. There is obviously love, communality, a sense of belonging, and a sense that society includes everyone, no matter what their age.

After school, teenagers meet in cafes - learnt from their families - shake hands, kiss, and chat. They don't wander around yelling and shouting - this is not their norm.

  • 291.
  • At 11:58 PM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • vikingar wrote:


When a child,
I saw the world,
through unquestioning scope,
untill my sight was lost,
in exchange for an adult lens.


  • 292.
  • At 12:01 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • R TURNER wrote:



  • 293.
  • At 12:02 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • lis swingler wrote:

I found your presentation of this evenings programme one of your weakest discussions and I was depressed to note it ended on the issue of money, although I realise we all need money to survive I think the old saying it doesn't always make you happy should be considered. Is not a good life more about finding a solid strength within yourself which can allow comfortable accessment of situations. Boundries, is a wise comment but why have they been eroded, perhaps society sence and is responding to a hypocrisy's driven by those in real power.
Labour, socialist or capitalist? Pop Stars or nursing.
And lastly why do children have all the answers, listen to them? surely inputs from the adult world must be lacking.
ps sorry about the spelling a disability

  • 294.
  • At 12:04 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Alison wrote:


For themselves..AND their parents.

Families living in poverty do not ALL have drug adict and alcholic parents..

and yet no one can consult the real experts on poverty and children.

Its so hard to recpect yourself when your not respected only condemed..

and what does that leave for your children?

Children would do better if experts stoped attacking their parents..and gave a bit more encouragement..for a very difficult job.

Children would do better if the govenment stoped encouraging peadofiles in working with children.

Children would do better if they exposed and discouraged that needy children get what theyre entitled to and its not stolen by officials.

  • 295.
  • At 12:05 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • phil wrote:

Personally, as a father, i have been replaced in my role, by the state. Some mothers are better off financially without their husbands and the law does everything possible to assist a mother who deprives children, their fathers.Yes, it helps the mother to keep the children fatherless.But the politicians know best!

Dear Cyberspace

Posting is rather like praying - no one is taking you seriously.

The solutions: whether party biased, money fixated or mechanistic are all "second order" corrections.
The fundamental error in our society is a cultural direction that takes us ever farther away from Nature.
Impregnation, gestation, birth, breast, mother, father, "secure attachment" form a natural sequence of life that, when given respectful PRECEDENCE over all else, offers the highest chance of stable individuals, stable society and minimal strife - of every kind. All the above factors have been subordinated to hedonistic and material pursuits, as we prize every job higher than parenting and must have money to buy personal fun.

  • 297.
  • At 12:07 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Saz wrote:

Children need to feel safe both physically and emotionally. If children live in fear, they will never take risks, explore, experiment, ask questions, learn, speak.

Instead they will go into the adult world, rebelling, with low trust levels and feeling isolated.

So what are they living in fear of? Here are a few I hear of...
- Parents playing guilt games, or even physically abusing them.
- Not fitting in amongst friends because they don't 'look right'.
- Being individual risks isolation as many peers will abandon them.
- Fear of not being listened to because they aren't confident speakers of english.

Young adults need to have opportunity to try things out, make mistakes, reflect on their behaviour and that of others. Schools are the ideal places for this yet it fails to happen due to strict 'box ticking', 'ranking', 'labeling' requirements imposed left right and centre.
Teachers STRUGGLE to carry out their vocation, (many now expected to teach in challenging secondary schools after a 6 week summer crashcourse - see TeachFirst). They and their students often spend up to 45 hours a week in school.

Parents who don't turn up to open evenings etc 'why should I do well, my mum/dad doesn't care'.

I just watched newsnight and am very relieved that this issue has been brought to light. As adults, we need to have hope for young people, listen to them, be patient and focus on their positives and potential.

  • 298.
  • At 12:10 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Karon Parker wrote:

I also feel like lots of others that children need to feel loved and wanted in order to be happy. I also feel that today's society does not value parenting as a necessary role. When i became pregnant with my son i actually felt pressured for all sorts of reasons into returning to work, rather than doing what i had always wanted to do and be a 'stay at home Mum'. I am not suggesting that staying at home is right for every woman but surely it should be seen as a valuable role for those Mothers or Fathers who choose to do it. Children look to their parents first for love, security and affection. I think we need to value parenting as a worthy vocation and teach parenting skills to teenagers before they leave school.

  • 299.
  • At 12:15 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Lionel Tiger wrote:

Now in my twenties, I am increasingly seeing the value of contacts I have made and the useful wisdom they can offer. Throughout my life, I have made friendships from various sources and now consider some of them peers, who I will exchange ideas and advice. I am also finding it valuable to act as peers to younger people, as it helps me find out about younger people than myself and feel valued by them. I do find as a consequence of being different from my classmates at school, and the memories of adolescent unease, I now feel uncomfortable around young teenagers. However, I feel much more comfortable and easier to relate with a group of younger people with friends who have become people I consider peers.

It seems the individualism promoted by influences from American culture and politicians like Margaret Thatcher who famously said "There is no such thing as society, only individuals and families", leading to selfishness and greed. Does this attitude lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness portrayed in works such as 'Catcher in the Rye'? Does America hold individualism as progress from ideals promoted by John F Kennedy when he said "It's not what your country can do for you, it's what you can do for your country" ? It seems that individualism fails to support the uniqueness and diversity of the individual in post-modern times.

It seems to me that the human animal evolved in social groups in order to provide security and a delocalised network of survival skills in a social group of humans. The evolution of speech enabled effective communication of ideas and intentions between small societies of humans, allowing humans to displace the Neanderthals who had 30% larger brains, and who may have individually been cleverer than humans. It seems to me that groups of humans have the ability to become more than the sum of its parts, which has allowed large societies to form, to the extent that concepts such as the national society and global society have emerged.

In the same way that peer to peer computer networks provide more effective network solutions than client-server models, maybe a society where values percolate society in a similar manner will provide a more effective self-regulating society in contrast to values defined by the state. Maybe we are entering a post-post-modern era.

  • 300.
  • At 12:17 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • sylvie coulson wrote:

I am French & I've lived in England since 1976. I've raised in this country 4 children as a widow & therefore as a single parent.. I also teach French in primary school in this country. My children have all done well graduated at Unniversity & have good social skills but I must say I brought them up in a French liberal way but with strong boundaries. when I used to discipline them I always try to explain to them my course of action & let them explain why they acting that way. I treated them as little adults.
what surprised me when I first came to England is what you call now the nanny state. I felt no parents where trusted to be responsible & capable of bringing their own children properly. There were all these rules for example telling you when a child is old enough to be left at home on their own.
It seems to me that the problem is about children not being given enough responsability at an earlier age. They also should spend more time enjoying themselves among adults. Instead of parents going out to the pub without the kids there should be more social occasions like a lot of other europeans countries have, to enjoy themselves as a family unit.
The problem is children built up this image that they only will become adults when they are like their parents, can go to the pub & get pissed. I also feel the sex education at school is giving the wrong message. the message is you can have sex as much as you want as long as you are well protected, used condoms. I feel the message should be abstinence or only do it when you feel is right for you. Only have sex when you are ready & in a stable relationship. sex should be a beautiful love act with both partners commited to each other. concentrate on building up your futur then have sex & get pregnant.
I also feel poverty is not an issue but broken homes is. A lot of unemployed or underprivileged back ground family spoilt their children rotten. They seems to have the best clothes & all the toys they could possibly want. Another problem which has been tackle lately is the bad diet. My children has always eat with us at home & were introduced to all sorts of food at a very early age. If they did not like it they had to eat a bit of it & they had to do without anything else. I dreaded invited my children friends as practically all of them would fuss about their food telling me they did not like that....I am sure this very poor diet must have an impact on their behaviour.

  • 301.
  • At 12:18 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Jan wrote:

I thought this report was enormously important. As a recent immigrant I was perplexed to find myself in a culture where in my area children seem to have little respect for adults and showed little courtesy towards them and vandalism by groups of 'hoodies' happened with regular consistency. Even less palatable was the fear, impotence or apathy of adults in the face of this situation, and the apparent nil social capital as far as cooperation or interaction between adults was concerned. For children to develop in a psychologically healthy and pro-social way, significant adults (in the inclusive sense) in a child's life need to value children and show an interest in them in a context where boundaries are recognised. In these respects, apparently the UK is lagging far behind.

  • 302.
  • At 12:22 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • nathalie wrote:

I find tonight's debate on this crucial issue very disappointing.

According to the panelists, the state of childhood in Britain is so bad because the children have "taken over" and have "no boundaries"!!! What is that suppose to mean? It's the children's fault and all they need is a good slap on the back of their head? That will teach to be poorer than the rest of Europe and dare to complain!!!

Then it all came to the family break up. Doesn't Sweden or Denmark have a rate of divorce that has nothing to envy to the UK?

And at some point, the debate drifted to religion. the state of childhood in Britain is so bad because we don't go to Church anymore. Alleluhia! All we need is love love love!

And as to suggesting that Sweden is starting to cut expenses, that is beyond belief! Public spendings - espcially on education and childcare - in Sweden is by no means comparable to the UK.

What about the cost of childcare in the UK and how middle class families struggle to make ends meet (and the nightmare for a low income families)? - when by contrast countries like France or Sweden heavily sponsor nurseries? What about child benefit as compared the other European countries (France offers huge discount on income tax for families and pay generous maternity benefits)?

Doesn't that come in the picture to help family welfare and Children's hapiness?

  • 303.
  • At 12:23 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Cottle wrote:

As a teacher working with unemployed adolescents it is clear to me that a pattern of family life turns full circle. With many my young adults, who are low achievers see little hope of sustaining a working life style that allows self development and a rewarded proposition into working and family life. Many of my learners have little faith or hope in a system that presses down on their self motivation and esteem that is linked to unemployment, and work with inadequate pay.
These conditions only underpin the continuing indifference we as a society present young adults. It presents only a continuation of an understood lifestyle that is not able to support young people, who for many are starting out with family life of their own. It is no wonder that a full cycle of events taken from their own family life and experiences are transferred into their own life and that of their children’s. It is no wonder that as the controlling adults we see the behaviour of young people as indifference and a challenge that we can not face or adequately address resulting in a downward spiral of community, learning, self respect and the respect of the older generation.

The one thing that is essential and lacking in the UK more than any other country in the world is family rights - equal civil rights to both natural parents.

It is the one thing you did not mention at all. I have never seen such an appallingly distorted programme - we are the last in child welfare of 21 RICH countries, it was made clear early on that money was not the solution, but the whole discussion was then forced onto the tracks of child poverty. How denigrating of poor parents, how absolutely morally bankrupt.

Not one parent, just as a parent, was there on the programme - yet we MUST be the "professionals", the "experts" in our own families, we can't be anything else.

The contempt you - the sort of people you fatured on this programme - show for us is almost unbearable. It is what our children learn. I speak as a child of divorce who ahd to help raise my younger siblings from the age of six - had to fight the courts to see my own father - a good father.

I speak as a father, a simple parent, who has been fighting for ten years to have any contact with my own child, she is now nearly grown up. We loved each other, she wanted both her parents. Reason she and I were denied this? The courts, the schools, the opinion-forming classes - wall-eyed intolerance of pluralism, unutterable abuse of human rights, aslienation, cruelty, estrangement, all practised by institutions. You simply have no idea.

  • 305.
  • At 12:58 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • C. Walker wrote:

I have real money to give away!

All you have to do is play this game with a group of friends:-

It invloves a Chess Board, a Monopoly Board, Trivial Pursuit and a deck of cards.

Each player has their own peices for Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit but must work in teams against each other for chess.

You play all three boards with every turn.

The rules for Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit are as normal except that monoply is played with real money!!

The Chess board starts with only a King and a pawn for each side.

the rules are as follows:-

1) Chess peices (included those one) can be traded for monopoly money or monopoly property or answers in trivial pursuit.

2) Negotiations are allowable but must be ratified through a round of Poker.

The objective for playing is to win at all three. You loose play if you are defeated at chess.

Sorry, made it all up.

  • 306.
  • At 01:01 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Generation Cold Y wrote:

Jim Murray MP made the point that the UNICEF report is dated. It's data is at best 5 or 6-years old. George Osborne MP made the point that the legacy of his party is not relevant to a 10-year old today.
They are both right.

The debate on Newsnight missed a key section. "Young people." These are people, like myself, who were children when this data was collated and are now between the ages of 18 and 23.

Surely, somebody should have asked us what it has been likely maturing in our society? What it is like to be a young adult after enduring the most miserable chlidhood documented?

There has been an over focus on small children when I was growing up. There were plenty of little kids play grounds about but no where for my friends and me to go. So we got very bored and then very drunk and stoned. Fortunately I came from a good family with an active extended family and most fortunately that family was overseas and so I was taken away from here when I was 15. I returned for university at 19. Life has steadily detoriated since. In spite of working for over a year I can barely break £500 in my current account (and that has only been since the mid of January) because of my student overdraft and loan repayments. I want to buy a home so I can secure myself but I am unable to do so without tying myself to a risky mortgage and certain indentured servitude. I feel like my only function is to work and consume, and at a later date replicate myself so the pensions crisis can be alleviated. Socialising only seems possible after my peers are drunk. It is not only teenagers who see their peers as unkind and unhelpful. I am sure someone could die on the tube during the rush hour and no one will notice until it is over and there are more tourists.

The UNICEF report pointed out facts in this country that have been around since the 1990's. It's not your 10-year old you should be worrying about. It's my generation. As I recall your Government told my generation recently that we should expect to work until our 70's. I recall your Government saying that to make peace we must have war. I recall your Government telling my generation we should expect to be at war and in a continual state of emergency for decades to come. Alienation and disenfranchisment is not a uniquely British-Muslim problem I think.

Yes the children today suffer from the morass of our decrept society but don't forget those that are no longer kids and are now on their own.

Only five-years ago I was a kid and optimistic. Now I'm an adult and see no future ahead of me. At least not in this country. I am very glad I have another passport. I am even happier that we are in the EU and I can go and live somewhere else than this dead-end society. I hope all the young people of this country leave here so it becomes a nation of geriatrics, the middle aged, and their spoilt brats.


  • 307.
  • At 01:32 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Marilyn Warburton wrote:


  • 308.
  • At 02:07 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Disconnect our ties to American media and culture and reconnect with our closest neighbours in Europe.

  • 309.
  • At 03:12 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Wendy Ramsay wrote:

Having someone that they can trust and that is prepared to listen.

  • 310.
  • At 04:13 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • C.Shekhar wrote:


  • 311.
  • At 06:51 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • David Patterson wrote:

Security, parental love, enough to eat, good health and education are all important.
I had all of these, but I was never happy until I found acceptance from my peers.
One can be well fed and cared for, but still very lonely.
Loneliness is the greatest poverty.

  • 312.
  • At 08:08 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Nichola wrote:

It's as clear as day, love, moral values,discipline and a two parent stable family. This horrible liberal experiment has gone wrong. The children and the family are paying the price and this government has systematically stripped away the last remaining vestiges of traditional morality. But then where is the moral guidance in this country, the churches are too frightened to speak out for fear of sounding judgemental and they have been rewarded with falling congregations and an increasingly secular society. It is time to stem the tide.

  • 313.
  • At 08:51 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Nicki Duncan wrote:

"one thing' is too simplified.
I think if we only concentrate on the poverty issue we are missing several other important ones. I live in a middle class area and there is plenty of unhappiness and dysfunction to be witnessed.

Two quotations come to mind which I believe are vital to a childs wellbeing.

One (Can't remember who said this but it has stayed with me) states;
'Love children for who they are and not what they do'

The second is from a book called 'The pampered child Syndrome ' by child Psychologist Maggie Mamen who says;
'Families are not a level playing field, nor a democracy. They are-by nature, design and necessity-hierarchical.

Parents need to reclaim authority and to make their children feel worthy. Respect for fellow human beings and their own self esteem will grow fom this.

  • 314.
  • At 08:54 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Lynn wrote:

As a registered childminder for the past 14 years I have seen children's behaviour deteriate dramaticaly. The children have slowly began to control parents, grandparents, peers, school teachers, aunts & uncles etc, as they have an early understanding of how to get what they want when they want it. All of the above appear frightened of upsetting the children. Non of the children appear to have clear boundaries or simple age appropraite rules. The adults seem to think that distraction is a useful tool to use, when over the years it appears to have instilled the children with the knowledge that if they continue to display unacceptable behaviour they be continualy entertained. Distration removes a child from an incident but the child enjoys the attention for the wrong reasons. Whatever happened to the word 'no' simply 'no'. These days the children are given a complex discussion on why, what, where, how etc they have no compreshesion or life skills to make sense of what has realy been said or even understand what has been said. Today one believes that to promote a happy childhood children need love, clear age appropriate boundaries, to be taught self discipline and manners, to be taught what acceptable and unaceptable behaviour is, a stable and secure family life providing continuity and to bring it all together into a big ball so it continues to roll around 'FUN'.

  • 315.
  • At 09:14 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • ashiq wrote:

when he does not worry about being hungry.

  • 316.
  • At 09:24 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • John McMurray wrote:

I was interested in the programme and would like to make you aware of research that was completed in America that proved children & young people that live in a community where families, schools, youth organisations, faith based organisation and the wider community that provide SUPPORT, EMPOWER, SET BOUNDARIES & EXPECTATIONS & ENCOURAGE CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME among their children and young people, produce MOTIVATED LEARNERS, POSITIVE VALUES, SOCIAL COMPETENCIES & POSITIVE IDENTIIES.

The approach used was to assess how many of a list of 40 ASSETS young people aged 11 to 18 possessed. This was reported to their wider community. In many cases the community began to initiate steps to build up those asset that where missing. This resulted in families, schools, youth organisations, faith based organisations and the wider community putting the needs of young people first. It also replaced the view that communities sometimes hold, that they need someone else to come into their community to fix their young people, with an approach that caused the community to take responsibility for their own young people.

In Scotland & Ireland some YMCA’s are beginning to use this approach. More information is available on

  • 317.
  • At 10:15 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Colin Chamberlain wrote:

More breast beating on the way. More demands to throw more money at problems to which this government has contributed by throwing money at problems.
It would have been instructive to know exactly what criteria were applied before we spend another penny and to look first at the leading nations for benchmarking.
It is, of course, just possible that excessive reliance on interviews has biassed the findings - Brits are notoriously self-critical having been beaten over the head by sociological socialists for the last 10 years.
Lets not spend in haste and repent in miserable leisure.

  • 318.
  • At 10:27 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Lindsay Wade wrote:

I teach in an FE college, and I see the products of 11 years of schooling. Children come into FE with no concept of BOUNDARIES, their parents are too busy squabbling amongst themselves to take time for them. Some of these children actually boast about how they have been bought double beds so their boyfriends can stay over, there seems to be a total lack of guidance from parents who want to be 'best friends' with them!! Some parents appear to be happy to abdicate care of their child at 16 if it means they can get extra funding, in fact they demand it so they can move away with new partners, leaving their 16 year olds stranded and without their support. The worrying thing is that I lecture in Child Care, and I fear that many of these students are going on to perpetuate the circumstances of their own up-bringing, as many cannot see anything wrong in it! Transient relationships in parents, break-up of families, and no security in their childhood has much to blame.


The UNICEF report is damning. Whatever the caveats, and some of the data undoubtedly is out of date, the UK clearly performs much worse than any of us might wish.
However, it is worth looking at some of the caveats; since these also show what the difficulties in rectifying the position might be. The first is that modern life is not a level playing field. A number of decades ago Alvin and Heidi Toffler warned us of ‘future shock’ to come. We are now in the middle of that shock. All our lives, lifestyles and culture, are changing far faster than we have ever experienced before. This is especially true of the UK and US, which are at the leading edge of the new society.

On the other hand, many of the societal changes take a generation or more to move through. So, the ‘children’ being surveyed are mainly ‘Thatcher’s Children’ not yet Blair’s. It is as well to remember Margaret Thatcher’s comment that ‘…there is no such thing as society.’ She later denied saying this, though the comment was well documented. More important, this comment summed up the shift in values she engineered. She promoted ‘individualism’, in theory an admirable process of freeing up every individual to shape their own lives. In reality this was shorthand for a free market economy; where the strong, in effect the rich, were free to predate on the weak – leading to the obscene bonuses now being paid to those gambling with our pensions in The City. The agenda was made even clearer by her attack on the groups which had traditionally defended the social values which opposed this rush to profit at any price. Most crucial, in the context of the UNICEF report, she deliberately undermined the authority of teachers – who she correctly saw as transmitting social values which questioned her agenda.

The move to ‘free market’ values, in many respects a return to much earlier times even though the forces they were supposed to address came from future shock, shaped government approaches to society in both the UK and the US (and were, with the wholehearted support of the neocons, embraced by the US population as a whole). Even Tony Blair, in his public statements if not in his hidden New Labour agenda, embraced the ‘free market’.

The result may have been better economic performance, but the trade-off is to be seen in the UNICEF list, where the UK and US are firmly welded to the bottom. Those higher up the list subscribe to the main alternative philosophy – of social democracy. A caveat against the obvious conclusion is that these other countries are also paying an economic price for being slower adopting to the future. We also need to factor in the bias of the survey which comes from its sponsors belonging to an organization which embraces a social democratic viewpoint.

Having taken into account those caveats, however, the conclusions of the report are so damning that they should without reservation condemn ‘free market’ values to the dustbin of history. Underneath the surface even we in the UK, though not our peers in the US, still look for social democracy. Even so, it will – as indicated above – take another generation (or half a generation if New Labour proves to have been moving us in the right direction) before we can hold up our heads in the company of our continental neighbours. Of course, if David Cameron wins the next election for the Tories, who then revert to their beloved Thatcher values, we may never move out of our cesspit!

  • 320.
  • At 10:49 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Sarah Robertson wrote:

As a teaching assistant in a primary school,I see standards dropping.Budgets tightened,the pace of the day faster,and times shortened for numeracy and literacy 20 min for each if your lucky -result,unfinished pieces of work and quality which is o.k. As discussed by J.Ps`group there is a lack of continuity in the classroom.Reception children can have four different teachers in a week,teachers have p.p.a time, when they go and prepare plan and assess.meanwhile other teachers come and cover the class,including Teaching assistants,for which class management was not covered in their training and certainly there is no extra pay!Our children have the right to excellent education and fostering the right attitudes and incentives for the future.

  • 321.
  • At 10:49 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • vikingar wrote:

In the UK, so much societual policy & delivery have been high jacked by liberal lefty "do-gooder" factions since 1960's ....

..... the UN rating is pretty condemning of RIGHT ON, PC & DO-GOODER interference, meddling & encroaching unworkable marco experiment imposed on the majority.

No surprise their, policy affecting children, is another wheel coming off the Liberal Lefty wagon, rolling alongside the unhinged wheel that is multiculturalism.

No wonder people are not looking towards the Liberal Left for answers …. they have caused so many of ours problems & are still in denial :(

The Renaissance of Rights in the UK continues apace, to readdress this imbalance.


  • 322.
  • At 10:53 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Hugh Ferguson wrote:

Referring to the samples of school children interviewed, I was particularly struck by the much superior articulation, in English, of the Dutch children.
This is a subject frequently commented on, and often relates to comparisons of the English spoken by English footballers, and foreign footballers. Why is this!?

  • 323.
  • At 10:57 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • anand wrote:

My name is anand. People helpful messages and also child so i like this message.

  • 324.
  • At 11:02 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Akinola Yetunde wrote:

I think what a child need to stay happy asside from Sonud Education,Good Food,and Health is Attention from the Parent.The reason why this is necessary is because in Africa parents are busy working for money.
While the children will be on their own doing what they feel is right and at end of the day they get into trouble.
With this l am very sure they(children) will not be happy.If parents give their children enough attention they will be very HAPPY.
Lastly Happy Children makes a Happy Home, Happy Home makes happy Family,Happy Family makes Happy Nation While Happy Nation makes Happy Country.

  • 325.
  • At 11:15 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Hughes wrote:

Children do better, as do adults, when they are engaged in a web of high-quality adult relationships.

  • 326.
  • At 11:24 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Laverne Hunt wrote:

Family child care supported by work places and government to allow family members to support family. Not main issue with young people and why they are so challenging. All people need a faith or belief as a foundation when families fail them for whichever reason. They need truth in their lives and availability of loved ones. It is difficult for full time workers to be available for their children. I am a full time working mum myself and we are racked with guilt because we know we cannot do both efficiently - be there for our children in a way that is not hurried and provide for them emotionally. Extended familities seem to be a dying trend replaced by childcare and nannies. I think government could do more by supporting extended families more. My parents looked after my children which was hugely important but government does not support these arrangements prefering to pay non family members for child care. Grand parents miss out and wisdom is not passed down generations. As a consequence people become disposable particular the aged.

Children need unconditional love and support. As for the children boasting they have double beds for sex with their boy/girlfriends, losing their virginity, drugs they take etc, have you ever stopped to think that a lot of this could be made up? If one kid in a class brags that he/she smoked dope (they may well not have done!) then they rest say they have too!! We were all children once, and we all did it. ;-)

  • 328.
  • At 11:35 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Marcus Boyle wrote:


If people have a sense of togetherness, they will trust each other. They will look after each other.

I'm embarking on a career as a Citizenship teacher. One important aspect of the curriculum is Active Citizenship. This encourages schoolchildren to take on an issue and make a meaningful contribution ot their communities.

Anyone who is interested in buzzword bingo whould listen out for "community cohesion". Even her Maj mentioned it in her Xmas day speech.

Communities will set their own "boundaries" of acceptable behaviour. If people are busy having fun and being cool with each other, they won't have time to be anti-social.

  • 329.
  • At 11:41 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • terry martin wrote:

I hear a lot about lack of respect by young people today.Well when I grew up I didn't have respect for my elders but what I did have was fear.Fear of being caned at school,fear of being sent home from school to face my parents and fear of coming into conflict with the police.This kept my friends and I within certain boundaries set by society.In todays namny pamby liberal thinking world fear has disappeared replaced by "rights of the individual".The liberal thinkers have had plenty of time to change society and have been shown to have failed.We need to get back to a society where the bad kids (who are by far the smaller group)are brought into line so the majority who wish to learn and progress are able to.

I can see teachers not being to manage. I had a coffee and a chat with one earlier this week. I could tell he was over worked and sick of constant disciplining of them, that he was not even noticing his own son's misbehaviour.

The kid wandered off for 5 minutes by which time Dad was gone. This made him upset. What do both kids and parents do?

  • 331.
  • At 11:47 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Peter H Reeve wrote:

I watched Newsnight last night. I have not read the above comments yet, but I shall. What follows are my own thoughts. For the last 30 years I have been a teacher in a small alternative primary school in Norfolk. My wife and I have constantly admitted children who have been unhappy at state primaries. We keep our children in one mixed-ability group and they remain with us in that group over years. They receive individual help, but much of the time there are activities, movement, games, singing; they hear stories and do creative art. The clouds in their lives clear away entirely. They become truly happy and lively, with colour in their cheeks. They actually come to love school and invariably go on later to do very well. Overwhelmingly, it is the system that has education wrong. The very first thing children need are to stay together, doing things that children actually enjoy.

  • 332.
  • At 11:51 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • simon crosby wrote:

Children thrive when their words are listened to and their feelings are acknowledged as valid - even if the parent does not agree - let children have a right to express their own reality, especially when inconvenient.

Parents teach much more by example than by verbal insruction. Verbal instructions can be dismissed by children more readily than what they are shown as ways to behave. If you want children to respect boundaries then showing them how that works is more effective than any verbally requiring of it.

  • 333.
  • At 11:52 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • James O'Connell wrote:

Simply to add. This programme was a very good one. It was a genuine discussion among well-informed participants. It was not the far-too-often confrontational setting of hostile, and often little representative, viewpoints.

  • 334.
  • At 11:57 AM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Kay O'Connell wrote:

WE give mixed messages to our young people. On one hand they can be arrested for swearing in the streets, but are given the message by the media that Gordon Ramsey (and his language)is someone to aspire to.
We expect young people to be model citizens, when we feed them a diet of Big brother etc etc.(in France there were protests when the equivalent of Big Brother was shown with rubbish being tipped outside the TV studios!)
As adults we don't want to accept that perhaps our behaviour should change and if we say this we are accused of being 'another Mary Whitehouse. Everyone fears the trendy elite for fear of being 'uncool' and meanwhile our children suffer.
We see factions of Islam as being extreme (which of course it is) but never question the extremity in our own society. Democracy shouldn't become demonocracy.

  • 335.
  • At 12:02 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • John Chambers wrote:

I feel that the government has let down many children by not providing good educational opportunities whilst at secondary school in particular and also for apprenticeships for the many children who end up with few GCSEs. Education of our children is the largest gift we can give to the next generation - I suggest to base schools on the private school model - half the size of classes, smaller schools, more individual attention which develops high self-esteeem and will reult in the moulding of a more caring community. Yes it will cost - we should be willing to pay. [I have worked in industry, in comprehensive schools and in private schools. My children have been to stae schools and private schools]

  • 336.
  • At 12:20 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • H. Eaton wrote:

The quality of social relationships are I think the most important influence on a child's happiness but of course this is a complex and difficult issue to tackle directly. However, the number one issue which I beleive could and should have been effectively tackled by the government at a much earlier stage and which has a negative effect on many families is the housing crisis, whether that be middle class parents having to both work all hours to keep up with the spiralling house prices or families on low income's living in overcrowded conditions due to demand for council housing far exceeding availability.

  • 337.
  • At 12:27 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Sue Campbell wrote:

Love, respect and discipline are as essential as food and shelter to build a healthy society. In the 50's education system if we did not receive these at home we certainly learned them through education at school or outside clubs/church etc and we certainly did not suffer from the influence of materialistic and degrading publishings and media. We were encouraged to have a sense of belonging and to realize that our individual actions affected the well-being of the whole. Mixed cultures are an admirable goal, but human nature is such that we are more comfortable with like with like and UK has misunderstood the nature of this problem and not addressed it such as in places like Singapore, where it seems to work because they have a firm and enforced policy of law and order.

  • 338.
  • At 12:31 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • su sullivan wrote:

I seriously doubt whether newsnight could have a serious debate about children and the UNICEF report without having parent on the programme to debate with so called experts and politicians.And in particular mothers.

  • 339.
  • At 12:32 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Chris Linthwaite wrote:

A loving home environment with no pressure. In that I mean that the household must have the financial means to survive on a monthly basis, the child must be able to learn at a pace that suits them and not government targets. The chance to play. Most importantly a child must feel loved and wanted.

  • 340.
  • At 12:42 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • mike halligan wrote:

economic wealth = socail and envoronmental poverty. emotional health is very very poor in the uk. this is caused by trapped anger and rage which leads to fear. to set yourself free (as the duch children illustraited go to the Quaker web site at where freedom awaits. freedom can also be found in the writings of Dr Alice MIller, Dr Dorathy Rowe, and DR Bob Johnson, best wishes withyour new found freedom. mike.

  • 341.
  • At 12:53 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Akumbo Chris wrote:

Its nice to see children happy.But the must important thing is that children are looking forward to what would work for them. Therefore if we can help them have a belief system that work for them they'll live to be ever happier.

  • 342.
  • At 01:16 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • chris hipwell wrote:

the context of a real family, that is mother and father,and the social network of other loved and trusted ones. The ease and abandon with which married relatinships break up, wrecking the chances for children, is devastating - as the report shows.

  • 343.
  • At 01:29 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • George Lungley wrote:

I go to school and i have noticed that the children who are supposedly 'unhappy', are breaking the rules as the barriers have been set down too late and too hard e.g. ASBOs. If parents were encouraged to instill at least some discipline but not much into their children at around 3-5 years onwards then those children would have brought up with it and this would be passed down through generations. Also the media has a part to play as there are programs aimed at 6-14 year olds (CBBC) that show much older, young adults, having girlfriends etc. These people act as role models and so children think that they must all have a partner by the time they start secondary school this leads to teenage pregnancies, early marriages and the parents do not know how to look after their children. These problems of appropriate role models and the right barriers at the right times.

the rest of the world have theirs childern. but of Africa? we Africa don't know what is the important of the child. childern in the continent are all way suffering. in term of education in other countrise like my own country Sudan, especially in South Sudan. people do not know really what are the significance of theirs childern in the future. so please our try by all mean to stop abusing to child's right. those kids are leaders of future.

  • 345.
  • At 02:25 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Anne Savage wrote:

One difference between family life on the continent and in the UK is school dinners. Instituted for the best of reasons they have 'liberated' women to ignore the needs of their children for the whole day. Continental women, unless they can afford fairly expensive after-school care, have to feed their children mid-day. Hard on them but better for the children and family life

  • 346.
  • At 02:26 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Julie Rasimowicz wrote:

I don't believe there is ONE thing, as many things need to co-exist to achieve this.

Responsible parents/guardians (and other role models) who uphold the law themselves and support policing and teaching/education is perhaps the most important as without this children do not see what is right or wrong but instead grow up with the belief of "what you can get away with without severe punishment". Boundaries and discipline are an important part of this responsibility as is respect for others.

In respect of poverty, I haven't had time to read all the other entries but I wonder how much of the poverty today is linked to poorly-paid jobs, asylum-seekers or immigrants who are unable to work or can only get poorly-paid jobs illegally.

  • 347.
  • At 02:29 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Anne Savage wrote:

One difference between family life on the continent and in the UK is school dinners. Instituted for the best of reasons they have 'liberated' women to ignore the needs of their children for the whole day. Continental women, unless they can afford fairly expensive after-school care, have to feed their children mid-day. Hard on them but better for the children and family life

  • 348.
  • At 02:43 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Kevin Metcalfe wrote:

It seems we have reverted back to the middle of the 1940's all over again. In the blitz children were evacuated from the inner cities and on arrival at their "new home" were found to be lacking in the basic skills when it came to education. Children unable to read or write, not knowing the difference between right and wrong. Young people need moral guidance from their peers aswell as their parents and immediate families.

  • 349.
  • At 02:46 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Angela Parry wrote:

With regard to primary age children: my daughter teaches in a South London school which I have myself have visited. I can tell you (and UNICEF!) that every child in that school, regardless of their home circumstances, has a 'significant adult' in their lives in the shape of their teacher. Those children are loved, cared for, well taught (including being presented with firm parameters of behaviour) and supported in every way by their teachers. If the circumstances of a child being absent from school give rise to suspicion, a teacher goes round to the child's house to find out what's going on. And not in school time!
The school also places a firm emphasis on conflict resolution, both in the classroom and in the playground. For the period of my daughter's absence from her classroom on jury service, those children who confessed that they can get a little 'hyper' each chose a 'calm buddy'; in this way, they assured her they would have the best chance of behaving perfectly for whoever else was looking after them. My daughter called in to see her class during a period of adjournment; the children were fine - several zoomed up to her to tell her they were sticking like glue to their 'buddies' and feeling terribly 'calm' as a result. I laughed a lot over this - but what a great strategy!
I realise that last night's debate centred mainly on children of high school age: so, what happens to the children that I have just described when they get up to high school? (Apart from the obvious - onset of adolescence!) Perhaps a lot more importance should generally be attached to the role of the form tutor; perhaps they should have dedicated time for one-to-one chats with their children; perhaps there should be mechanisms to ensure that the kiddies don't lose contact with a loved primary teacher, who may have been the 'significant adult' in their lives for a number of years.
Most larger primary schools in France employ a full-time social worker; British primary teachers are expected to be teachers/surrogate parents/social workers/dieticians - you name it! - and most of them fulfill all these roles and more. They are dedicated people who do a fantastic job. And what do they mainly talk about when out of school, almost to the point of obssession? Their kids, and how better to help them.

  • 350.
  • At 02:53 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Pedro Alves wrote:

You wrote:
"According to Unicef, the problems of being born in the UK start at the beginning: the proportion of those with low birth weight is greater in the UK than in 20 other OECD nations, way behind the likes Poland, Portugal and the Czech Republic."

This is chauvinism!
So the Uk has to be superior?
Why can't "the likes Poland, Portugal and the Czech Republic" be better?
The truth is anyone knowing the 4 countries, like myself, know that the UK is the worst by far!
Before the end of this year I'll move to Portugal for good!

  • 351.
  • At 03:07 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Star wrote:

I think that a loving and caring family is what children need to be happy. On a particular study made some months ago it was found that children who have family problems and lack of attention and love from their famiy are the most likely to cause problems in school and to drop out of school.

  • 352.
  • At 03:19 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Margaret Harley wrote:

I think kids like to be with their parents or close family and would prefer not to be sent to after school clubs etc. I know this isn't always possible as in most families both parents need to work full time. The role of the full time mother, however, is not valued by society or the government. There are always new benefits given to those using child care but none to those who choose not to leave their children with childminders, after school clubs etc. I haven't yet heard any interviewer ask members of government why they are so keen to encourage parents back to work and not to stay with their own kids! I'm not suggesting benefits for homemakers but some tax relief on my husband's salary would be nice!

  • 353.
  • At 03:34 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Gerard Cushley wrote:

The UNICEF report clearly indicates that the government ought to introduce alternative policies and initiatives that will alleviate the manifest social problems that are contributing to high and unacceptable levels of child poverty and malfunction in the UK. Is it not about time that the government refrains from putting so much emphasis on family values? Evidently the family can play an integral role in the shaping and socialization of children. The utilization of family importance in every political manifesto as the cornerstone for fully functional, healthy and aspiring children appears monotonous and tedious, and could be perceived by many as a government ploy aimed at transmitting the burden for their failed policies on to the shoulders of a substantial quantity of British parents. Is it not time that the government acts? The utilization of the education system as a stepping board and perhaps more substantial government spending on health care facilities, regeneration and community projects in the more deprived and less affluent areas, as opposed to squandering money on illegal wars and so forth, may be part of a solution.

  • 354.
  • At 03:42 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Reg Proudfoot wrote:

In 1973 I was happily married but frustrated by career advancement prospects, I saw an opportunity. I applied for a post that would take me around the country; I remember going away on holiday at the time wondering if I would be successful in my application; to my delight, I learnt on my return that my application had been successful and I started a month later. That was later to be the downward step in my marriage, as my appearances at home were to been random and disrupted to say the least by my professional duties. This state of affairs continued until 191975 I was asked by my company to go to Moscow for six months with a half way break of 3 weeks at Christmas. Except for a 5 day visit, my wife at the time, was becoming unhappy and so started a relationship with her immediate boss. On my return from Moscow in 1976, I was greeted with the news that my wife was going to leave me and she went off with her newfound friend.

Things went from bad to worse, my wife put in for a custody order for our two children, when having done so, her ‘boyfriend’ left her. Overjoyed at hearing the news when she telephoned me at work, I went home and asked her to return, saying that she couldn’t but hat we would ‘have to talk’, I agreed and she returned to where her ‘boyfriend’ had left her.

I do not know why to this day, I suppose it was ‘This terrible Stain on our marriage’ that things could never be the same. The custody order went ahead, my wife became very bitter that ‘I had taken the children away from here’ when in fact it was the court that had awarded my ‘Care and Control’. The inevitable happened and she then took up with another.

The effect on my children today? They have completely changed their attitude from wanting to be with me, to that of preferring to be with their Mother. Since that day when their Mother left, my relationship with my sons changed. I believed in marriage ‘for better and for worse’ was my attitude. My wife thought I should have been able to ‘Manage without her’ as running after her ‘turned her off’. In 1981 we divorced, my eldest son took up with another girl and moved down south, after two years of marriage, they divorced, my youngest son after leaving the matrimonial home, moved in with his Mother and quickly moved out after incompatibilities with the new boyfriend, he met a girl and when it was found that she was pregnant hey married and later divorced after failing to make his mortgage repayments.

My sons matrimonial scene has been disastrous, my eldest has at last made a good recovery having married for the 3rd time and made a success of his business life, my youngest has also had 2 marriages (divorced from the first but no the 2nd) and has now moved in with the 3rd lady 18 years his junior.

Academically in 1975 they were boy strong, my eldest went completely dysfunctional (like his father), my youngest although having achieved academic strength in 1982m found the idea of continuing with his studies to much and so left school. Both have had periods of drinking bouts when their marriages broke (as I did). All of us have been scarred by the experience.

My thought s now? I would dearly like to see a stronger input by the Church of what marriage is about; I would like to see more time devoted to Children by their Grandparents that have much to offer.

Reg Proudfoot

  • 355.
  • At 03:48 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • john parfitt wrote:

Good until the politicians came on then JP on terrible form, the interruption rate rising rapidly (especially for George Osborne) even though they might have had something to say and then JP trying to attach blame to Mrs T who has not been active in GB politics for 15 years -- a trick which even the dimmer kind of Labour supporter has given up. Seriously is it right for such a discussion to be chaired by someone who is a known apologist for unmarried parenthood? That is part of the problem although it's OK if you're loaded.

As an aged escapee via a state grammar (secondary in fact it was so long ago) school I would make all these pundits write out 'poverty of ambition' 100 times and as for child poverty I do remember the 30s in the Somerset coalfield -- if people suffer that way now it's probably self/parent inflicted.

  • 356.
  • At 03:51 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • john parfitt wrote:

Good until the politicians came on then JP on terrible form, the interruption rate rising rapidly (especially for George Osborne) even though they might have had something to say and then JP trying to attach blame to Mrs T who has not been active in GB politics for 15 years -- a trick which even the dimmer kind of Labour supporter has given up. Seriously is it right for such a discussion to be chaired by someone who is a known apologist for unmarried parenthood? That is part of the problem although it's OK if you're loaded.

As an aged escapee via a state grammar (secondary in fact it was so long ago) school I would make all these pundits write out 'poverty of ambition' 100 times and as for child poverty I do remember the 30s in the Somerset coalfield -- if people suffer that way now it's probably self/parent inflicted.

  • 357.
  • At 04:10 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • P wrote:

The one thing that has changed in recent times is that it has become the norm for both parents to work. Thus v.young children/babies are left with strangers in childcare when they should be with one of their natural parents Mother/Father either is appropriate. Children need their parents to bring them up, potty train them, nurture them it is their responsibility to have and enjoy. Unfortunately the govt knows it is better for the economy and house prices to have both parents working ploughing £1000 pcm into 'childcare' than encouraging parents to do the right thing by their children. Denmark encourages one parent to actually stay at home and look after their offspring and they come far higher up the welfare chart than we do it works !!!

  • 358.
  • At 04:17 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • L.Powell wrote:

In their family life:
Reasonable boundaries (aware of)
Love & caring (shown to them)
Interest in them (as individuals)
Converse with them(Talk TO not AT)
Listen to them (LISTEN not pretend to)
Give time to them (REAL time)
and so many more similar things that all contribute to building security,confidence,happiness,contentment etc.All essential to a good life.Without these,money is unlikely to solve the problems.
I ,as many others at the time,came from a "poor" background during the 2nd World War with all the deprivations that brought.My family were rich in the points mentioned earlier and I have benefited from that all my life,both socially and professionally.
Many other things may need to be done but in my mind these points are the basic essentials that must come first.

  • 359.
  • At 04:44 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • L.Powell wrote:

Why is it that politicians become aware of problems in society 5 or more years after the rest of us.As one of the children implied they live in a different world to us most probably.

  • 360.
  • At 04:52 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Amy Ana Maria wrote:

..As there are plenty of "good will people" who don't understand my very brief explainings(phrases), I am to restate for you, here:
In my opinion, children nust owe a a complete civilisation, & that is made ofsome attributes 4 them & of the societies thry live in, and these qualities will be:

healthy: communicationS(the Right Justice and the Right Information are included here too): wealthy : the intellect: the assurances( including an old & very well-known and very respected status: large families with their's social connections & links) etc.
The complete pragmatical respect in , completed by the complete 1 of outside.
Do have a nice day, all of you, the Right Straight persons !

  • 361.
  • At 05:22 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Sebastiain De Carss wrote:

Thanks , UNICEF for the mountain of a mayor climb ,there are still more grounds to cover and more mountains to bring happiness to Children

I am very Please for the first time in Years, There as been an excellent programm of Unicef . The BBC focusing on children happiness. Every Child as the right to be pretected and given the best support in bringing happiness of todays Society wherever their are in The World Wide,

Religious - Christians charities and Churches may have now have learnt from thier mistakes lessons in caring for the most vulnerable children in their Care. There is still more progression to improve standards of Care and given happiness to the future generation of the Care system.

I will always give my name to Petitions to help vulnerable children in our society today. Why do we need Petitions. ??? That is question i ask myself every day to help to make the World a better place for Children.

Barnardo Child Migrant.

Barnardo abuse. Ripon
The BBC The WEB BOX Petitions

My heart gos out to all Vulnerable Children in our society for better life. I wiil again spend 10 years of bring an Civil Court Case against injustics to children happiness.

Ex Child Slave 1960s UK
The Old Bishop Palace. Ripon 1960s
Barnardo's Charity

Sebastian J E De Carss.

  • 362.
  • At 05:39 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

Newsnight Team

Well done for devoting the entire programme discussing our children , the end I was more at a loss than at the beginning... I accept your schedule is a limiting factor .
The team of experts?...some showed their political bias & having a New Labour Minister & shadow Tory Minister does nothing for the debate...all they are doing is either making excuses or aspirations! .To debate & press forward with worthwhile ideas it must be conducted on an apolitical basis...
Today's headlines, showing the UK at the bottom of the table of 21 countries is really bad news, (we are a rich country & should have mirrored that fact) has been met with shouts from the government that the census was historic & things are now better?.. Any census is a relative statistic & applies to all those other no more excuses!!.
Whatever, this government has been in charge for almost 10 years & has failed in their promises. They should take the flak & attempt to move forward with cross party consensus. What we witnessed on this programme showed the continuous sniping that will resume if left entirely to the spin of politics, when their rhetoric starts with "it's better than it was 10yrs ago under conservatism" you know they're on shaky ground!
Head it up with people like Dr Tony Sewell, his input really convinced me.. understands the needs & necessary disciplines for Children... but in the same sentence I also query the Children's Commissioner who to me was a mite politically motivated?.

Just a thought...many families of yester-year in real poverty(not relative) ,who had to manage with very limited welfare compared with today's payments, brought up their extended families in the main to be well adjusted, happy & it's not all about money!

  • 363.
  • At 06:04 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Maurice - Northumberland wrote:

A Married Mother and Father would be a good start.
But not politically Correct these days is it?
The Government has spent 10 years destroying the fundimentals of 'Family' and National values and standards, so what the hell can anyone expect?
The spare the rod save the child prattle was predicted to lead to unruly youths and what we jave today - so where are the leftie liberal yogurt knitters who pushed all of this through in the first place?
No where to be seen, other than to try and push the blame onto some others shoulders.

  • 364.
  • At 06:20 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Keith Brammah wrote:

Time - Is the most important factor, time to listen, time to teach, time to help and time to watch. Time to love and time to cherish. The time is so easily lost when you're working overtime to pay for the new car the new tv the new house the new ipod etc etc .. Kids dont see it like you, unless you teach them too ... and therein lies the problem. They dont care how much the house is worth, but do miss you when you get home at 21:00 .... Wakey Wakey !

  • 365.
  • At 07:20 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Bob Rundle wrote:

In the National Literacy Strategy, the currently recommended lists of spellings are apparently selected on a ‘frequency of use’ basis from the extended compositions of children who can actually write, so they include, in the first sets, irregular words such as was, said, they, come. These are obviously useful, but notoriously difficult for the lowest 20% of the ability range, who are struggling with letter/sound matching in the early stages of both reading and spelling. Premature inclusion of irregular words in spelling lists causes three major problems:
• disproportionate learning effort;
• impermanent memorization;
• for children who are easily confused, misleading messages about the simple phonic rules applying to words of two or three letters.

So 100,00 children in each school year are asked to learn from a programme that is not just inappropriate, but counter-productive.

  • 366.
  • At 07:26 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Was it the chicken or the egg. Inflation in the 1970's took hold because in households where both parents decided to work to improve their standard of living manufacturers were able to increase their prices. More and more families were encouraged to follow this trend. However it then enslaved not only those who followed the dual income strategy but everyone else of modest means. It then became essential for most households to have two earning people to pay for what most people consider basic items. As many single parent households are unable to earn sufficient income the government kindly steps in to help. The effect on the growing child is to show that they too are dependent on government handouts. Children do hear parents talking and must realise that their parents are dependent on benefits or tax breaks. This cannot make them very happy as only a few of them are ever likely to break free of this state in their adulthood. Children are undoubtedly aware of the world around them more than adults give them credit for.

  • 367.
  • At 07:26 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Asa Akin wrote:

What children need is unconditional love and a genuine interest and involvement from at least one emotionally strong person.

They also need to spend time with this person. Government has a role to play here by giving descent maternity and paternity pay and time so carers have time to bond with children, letting carers be off work on sick pay when children are ill, and restricting the amount over overtime people work so they are less stressed when they are at home and letting all carers have shorter working days while the children are young.
Making sure the children are as important as adults with the same value so they are not pushed out of the way when carers don't want them. Also let children play until they are at least 7 years old before they start formal learning. My last point is to ban all kinds of corporal punishment for children. All these things are in place in Sweden which is why they are second from the top.

  • 368.
  • At 07:53 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Was it the chicken or the egg. Inflation in the 1970's took hold because in households where both parents decided to work to improve their standard of living manufacturers were able to increase their prices. More and more families were encouraged to follow this trend. However it then enslaved not only those who followed the dual income strategy but everyone else of modest means. It then became essential for most households to have two earning people to pay for what most people consider basic items. As many single parent households are unable to earn sufficient income the government kindly steps in to help. The effect on the growing child is to show that they too are dependent on government handouts. Children do hear parents talking and must realise that their parents are dependent on benefits or tax breaks. This cannot make them very happy as only a few of them are ever likely to break free of this state in their adulthood. Children are undoubtedly aware of the world around them more than adults give them credit for.

  • 369.
  • At 08:10 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Ilse Eilbeck wrote:

I have been asking myseld for the last 10 years "What's wrong with the children in this country? Why does Government seem to hate children?" Because, whenever you look read the papers or listen to discussions on the radio (with MPs or others, theytell you how they are going to tackle the problem withs the youngsters. Zero tolerance stc. Whenever schoo; results are good things are too easy for them, when theye results are bad, the youngsters must be more comtrollede.
On the other hand I keep asking myself how I would feel if I came home after school, parents tired, having no time to talk hoping I would do computergames (and then schold me for that) or ban me to do my homework etc.My children and we as parents were lucky: our children grew up in the Netherlands, they got muchfreedom and with it responsibility to make their own decisions on a daily base. No worry about Social Services or other incompitent Mps forcing the most ridiculous rules on us.
I also believe that the schoo; system is still idiotic. What has Labour promised us?
My children went to the school in the neighbourhood, after school they just played outside, met up with their bikes, roller skates or whatever. They were indipendent because they didn't have to be taken everywhere by Mummie in the car.
It is dangerous for them? If we only could leave our cars at home, or maybe wouldn' t even buy them. If we only could sit around the table and play games, listen to music or make music together. If we only could have fun with our children, fun, which doesn't cost anything. Like going for walks, going to the swimming pool.
We are making our children's future, we can't hide and get the resultsw: more juvenele criminals etc. And the Government can't hide as well. All these new tyargets, but none is really followed up.
How about the target that we have time for our children and listen what they really need. They'll ask for our time and understanding and not for computergames IF they have the choice.

  • 370.
  • At 08:27 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

In response to a comment that was made on last nights show..something along the lines of 'without a doubt teenage pregnancy is very bad for both the teenager and the child...what children need is stability and love', why is it assumed that someone below 20 at the time of conception cannot give love and stability? We've stopped blaming 'single' parents (?) so why not stop blaming young parents too....

  • 371.
  • At 08:44 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Eric wrote:

I agree with others - clear, sensible boundaries that the child can understand

  • 372.
  • At 08:58 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Karlos wrote:

Let's start by banning all "NO BALL GAMES" signs. What kind of country stop their children playing. I guess one that ultimately believes that "children should be seen and not heard".

  • 373.
  • At 09:00 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Kids need money spent on tangible intangibles. If you have a system that is comprehensive a child can flourish. If you make it up and have huge gaps where peer posse take over your gonna get a kid who sees through your pitful attempt at society and culture.
Kids are learning machines, who will devour relevant cues and construct reality based around that.
Loves alright, but money spent on the people and organisations and FAMILIES who look after kids is reality.
It is about money. SCHOOL is the place a child is raised, its the place where a child can interact directly with the aspirations of the society he/she lives in. If you spent 6 or 7 hours a day in one place it better be good. You better have access to candid and open conversation about what you need to be effective as a human being. You better be able to access services designed to help you survive and prosper. It's a service and it's about time the customer became king and queen.
Sometimes they can't get up and walk to another company providing better services. And it can be rather arbitary where you end up being.

FAMILIES target those who need advice in raising kids, nutrition in pregnancy, lets have a bit of the war spirit where society took direct and clear action with clear prescribed nutrional norms, and standards of behaviour. lets update it to what we know now.
If you can't get a good family lets pay people to provide what you need, in contribution to what you have.

MONEY can be love, you got to pay for what you want. Love can be money.
it's shocking but thats where we're at. You can retard the progress of aids in Africa with well targeted financial assistance and you can rejuvenate a childs life with well spent money, help the child to make good choices, don't just throw a fiver at a child on the weekends to blag some alcohol and go sit with mates on a park bench.

You got to create reality to make reality.

  • 374.
  • At 09:07 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Rekha Soni wrote:

In my view the one most important thing a child requires for hapiness is secure, stable loving family environment.

  • 375.
  • At 09:46 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Sue Webster wrote:

Children and young people need love and understanding and not to be feared and demonised.

  • 376.
  • At 10:04 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Halvdan K. Engen wrote:

I moved to UK, London, in 2001, together with my fiance. Our reactions of what we saw and experienced made us wonder what was going on here in UK. Our first experience was that this was a society with much aggression. Much hostility behind masks of superficial attitudes, where people hid their identity behind the word 'Darling' when they talked to each other. We felt aggression from young people, adults and elders. Again and again we saw parents hit a child (sorry to say it, but mostly mothers).

We know that The Queen and the monarchy is strong in UK, the strongest in the world, as far as we know, and the influence of the monarchy gives an especial culture of drowning feelings and only use the head. To only use the head as a guide in life, is a tragedy, but we see the power of the head-people here in UK. They are very fond of rules and laws, and do what they can to make so many of them as possible, and they love to organize - and they organize the children with laws until every child are a little possible criminal for the future. Yes, children need boundaries in life, but these boundaries should be born out of emotions between children and their parents, not from the head where cold and hard effectivity are the 'boss'.

The head calls for violence as a solution to problems, whilst the heart calls for care, understanding and love as solution to problems. The head have no feelings, whilst the heart use feelings as a communication.

We see this 'head-arrogance' everywhere in the society, and it's not difficult to understand that children have a hard time communicating with their parets on a intuitive and sensitive level.

It's so much more to say about this subject, but I only wanted to say a few words after seeing newsnight last night - another thing - the people Jeremy Paxman had gathered were almost only head-people, so how could he expect to get reasonable answers?

I and my fiance are from Norway.

  • 377.
  • At 10:57 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I'm 28 and grew up in a pretty deprived area of Derby. I did make it to university as one of the last to get a grant. I've also managed to do a bit of travelling in other countries.

It is really hard to know what to say in such a debate because it goes right to the heart of so-called 'Britishness'.

Despite all the blatent problems we have in our society I am prowd to have grown up in a country that has a vibrant identity. Yes, the rest of the world can see us as some rabid out of control mongrel mutt but, that is also what gives us our stoic sense of humour in the face of adversity and our dynamic back-of-the-envelope-on-the-fly abilities and pride to be different or even eccentric. Coupled with the UK being at the cross-roads of the worlds of the east and west and a liberal modern attitude to trade, migration, music, culture, the arts, philosphy and human identity itself and Britian can be an extrodinary place for opportunity.

However, before I come across all Thatcher and Blair-like I have to say this. It is just pure luck really that I managed to be reasonably happy and successful. I could easily just have been on crystal meths or dead to be quite honest.

All this vibrancy of 'Britishness' (or even America for that matter - black wholes aside) just seems a world away to most of us growing up in dreary towns and cities plodding through an un-enspired curriculum with the odd truthful teachers and role models.

Kids aren't stupid (we were all kids once remember). They see politicians with their protentious manner, stories of destruction, super-power dominance, the literal power of money and status and threats of destruction. Even at all levels of society from the currupt elite, middle class hard-nosed business men/women to working class thugs to organised crime, drugs and curruption at all levels of society. They know how tough it is out there and that know-one is inclined to cut off their nose despite their face to help you.

sooner or later they realise what education they have, what fanancial assets they have and what knowledge they have and their short-comings hit them like a sledge-hammer.

What do you do then? accept your lot of low wages, job in-security, no house of your own and cheap holidays. Or work really hard and play catch up to better yourself to get a decent career and a decent life or, turn to crime?

Do you have the heart to tell these kids how it is or give advice? To be frank and communicate on the level so to speak?

Suddenly it all looks bleak and dehumanising then doesn't it?

It wasn't always like this though was it (or quite as bad anyway).

Call it a result of ignorance or a lack of education or plain just not caring but the reslu is the same.
Essentially what is missing in society today for me, in our globalised world, is a sense of inter-dependancy between human beings and the value of our basic positive human values. When I say human values I don't mean in a goey way. I seen other cultures and in just a purely pragmatic way the sense of your own identity in relation to the identities of friends (basically deep alliances), peers, associates and so on to more distant relations of business and state.

I ask you can any of us say at length and conviction under cross-examination of the kids of today who we are and why we do what we do?

  • 378.
  • At 11:24 PM on 14 Feb 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

To love and to be loved/to relate to and to have relations with/to receive the affirmation his or her intrinsic dignity entitles him to

  • 379.
  • At 12:40 AM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Jean Roberts wrote:

Children toady in the UK may be classed as 'unhappy, unsupported' etc because they expect to be spoonfed with all the latest devices, costly football season tickets, designer clothes etc -- and not all these things are available all the time. In the past and in places where designer goods are not as accaessible, those expectations may not be there. Its all relative.

My grandchildren want things but do not always get them, and we still can be as happy kicking a football around, drawing ducks on the pond as downloading music from the web or playing electronic games.

Happiness is about reaching your potential and having the power of imagination! These are achieved by the basis of security, health and love- and then education which is based on creativity!

Happiness is about reaching your potential and having the power of imagination! These are achieved by the basis of security, health and love- and then education which is based on creativity!

  • 382.
  • At 12:53 AM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Anthony L wrote:

I am a 30 year old Englishman and for the last couple of years have been planning my escape to Denmark with my Danish girlfriend. I love my country (in a vague patriotic way) but the more I travel abroad the more disillusioned I get with Britain. The upbringing I will be able to give my future chidren in Denmark means the decision to relocate is not hard to make.
Every time we go to Denmark the greater sense of "living" is palpable. I think it can be hard for people living in Britain to realise how messed up we've become until you see it from the outside. I lived in Spain for a year also, and often was impressed how generally well rounded people were (including the kids), in comparison to the people I knew. Our society seems to have become so fractured now, it really is sad.
I agree with some earlier writers that there are many good, creative things that come out of Britain, but they are not good enough reasons to stay here for me.

  • 383.
  • At 08:15 AM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • S. Decker wrote:

In the 1980s and early 1990s I was involved in teacher training and taught a 4 year compulsory course helping teachers to look at encouraging children to communicate, develop positive self esteem and mental health. As the National Curriculum became more and more important in teacher training so this course became more marginalised until in the mid 1990s it was completely stopped.
I am not saying this is a cause of childhood unhappiness but it says something about our values as a society.

  • 384.
  • At 08:16 AM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Lars N wrote:

I came to England last May after living in Japan for 8 years. My two children were born there. Wherever we went in Japan, strangers and other parents would play, smile and talk to my kids. When I came here, everyone ignored them. I couldn't understand why, until I realised that's just the English psyche. It's no wonder children here are insular and depressed, when so many adults are the same!

However I do think the urban environment, which is where the vast majority of English children grow up now, could be made more child-friendly. Towns need to be planned and designed with families and children in mind. That means many more small safe play areas (they don't need any expensive vandalisable equipment, just trees to climb and and grass to run on) within residential areas. It's very difficult for children to play outside at the moment, that's why so many are obese. We should also stop shutting down leisure centres and swimming pools (my local council has closed two pools), and pass a law to prevent schools selling off their playing fields for development. Finally we need better traffic management to reduce congestion - for example it should be illegal to build new houses/flats without adequate parking.

  • 385.
  • At 11:48 AM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • pippop wrote:

The West and in particular Britain is at a stage of transition whereby authority has vanished. Children need authority and societies do too. We have, since time has been recorded, been under patriarchal authority. Men have now lost their credibility as caring providers and the true exposure of patriarchy, its self-centred self-interest in the self preservation of men's 'needs' is not being met my women anymore.

This ability for women here in the West to get out of this patriarchal paradigm has been facilitated by capitalism and its consequent individualism. In short the demise of gender bases power, of patriarchy, has become an unintended consequence of capitalism. Women have gained independence and self confidence, men have suffered from the loss of the cosy set up that patriarchy brought them, i.e. women who are their to services men's every need, freeing them to pursue their careers and their peccadilloes.

What we have now is an overload on women who heroically are trying to fill all the gaps men have left by being great at their careers, bringing in the bacon, first class home managers, and sole child carers. Whether it is the mother or the mother substitute in a nursery who is doing the caring, it is always women. In fact women are at the moment holding all this together practically single-handedly with men from the ministry demanding that we do more, and more, and more. Women will soon be walking out of the maternity wards, turning their babies over to other women and then getting straight back to the office.

Men are till trying to vilify the single mother and present this situation as pathological. [Note 'single mother' is the term used and furthermore used in a derogatory fashion, rather one of admiration for those women who take this task on single-handedly] We rarely hear this same situation described as 'absent fathering' do we?]

The most difficult aspect of single parenting is the poverty it engenders in a society that now requires two working parents for a family not to be impoverished. Rather than seeing her as she is namely, the one who takes over all the essentials of life when he can no longer cope, and wishes to indulge himself again in the frivelous freedom away from intense responsibility, this is clearly embarrassing for men, and they deal with it by this vilification of the single parent while omitting the fact of the absent father.

Women have had a reformation, brought about inadvertently by capitalism, men now need to look at their situation and reconsider where they might fit into a modern life, regrettably for them away from the advantages they had for so many centuries as the ruling patriarchs.

My fear is that they ill not face up to this and turn back to religions, the bastions of promoting and maintaining male self interest. Young women today are I think over worked, and over stretched, they need a true partner, one who is going to be prepared to really have an equal relationship in the business of rearing children, home and work both financially and emotionally and practically. We, since our reformation, have thrown most, if not all the useless men out, it is women who are seeking divorces now, women who have had enough of grown men who refused to be weaned from their indulgences.

  • 386.
  • At 12:18 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • tiredmum wrote:

I totally agree with the comments made by people who have lived abroad/come from other countries: there is nothing I or my children love better than to travel to Greece or Spain where children are WELCOMED. Welcomed in shops, restaurants, where families do things together and children get spoken to directly instead of being ignored. It is the same for adults in this country - the lack of community means people live in their own little boxes with no extended family around. It is a dog-eat-dog society with the emphasis on finding and keeping jobs as everything is about short term contracts and saving for a pension, looking after no. 1 is necessaary leaving no space for community spirit.

However I will say that research I have read shows that both mums and dads spend MORE time with their children now than 30 years ago - kids were too busy playing out with their friends then rather than being stuck inside, afraid to go out!

We have taken the American model rather than the calmer more long term social approach!

  • 387.
  • At 01:01 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • papaya wrote:

Love, boundaries, authority. I come from the Czech Republic and I've noticed parents here are afraid to tell someting to their own children in order not to demage their soul. I believe children appretiate friendly loving parent/adult with firm boundaries, which dosn't give a mismatched msgs. Also the parent should be educated to give them the answers and fill out their time with fun and activities. You can't see families going to shopping center as an activity in my country. Well not many of them can afford it anyway. Educatin system is very important! An option to finish your studies at 16 is unbelivable. Theese people will have a child one day, they have to give them something!!! An apprentice system should be launched. But always bare in mind A PARENT IS THE FIRST ONE WHO BRING UP AND EDUCATE THEIR CHILD NOT A SCHOOL - although there should be a very close cooperation.

  • 388.
  • At 02:00 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Gillian wrote:

TIME - we all rush around selfishly trying to have a fulfilling life and earn enough to buy our children "things" we think will make them happy - we inadvertantly let our children's formative years slip by without giving them the most expensive gift of all - TIME. The boss, our partners, the pub, the sports club, ourselves - yes, they all DEMAND time, but our children only deserve it so come second every occasion. I think we now lack confidence interacting with our children and have grown to avoid doing so.

  • 389.
  • At 02:33 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Gerry wrote:

Social exclusion, is the UKs biggest problem; I feel that I along with my family are victims of it, victims of it for years. And I am now 39 and still suffering from its "keep you down" effects.

I started off in the inner city of London, moved to several locations; all resulting in the same game; people with more money and better life styles looking down and keeping you down. I failed at being an IT trainer, got qualified but never had the right lingo. My kids are at schools now in Norfolk, but I see similar things happening to them the old "Us and Them" game. Even one of my boys mates parents, call us tramps behind our backs, due to them having more to spend, better housing etc...

People can get qualified, but will they be accepted? There are people who think that they might have and at what cost i.e. running down or looking down at your own.

The divide is getting bigger, I think it's come to the time where even having money doesn't help keep one safe anymore.

People, have to stop the "Us and Them" game, it's killing this country.

  • 390.
  • At 09:53 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • saeed wrote:

family is important for some one
, family provide a support, now days a family system is being,to be closed and our society is suffering so many problems,
over all happyness is a coplet term , all facters are important for a child
good education
good family

i am intrested in right answer pl inform me for right answer

  • 391.
  • At 12:53 AM on 16 Feb 2007,
  • Bonnie wrote:

A loving family is important of course. But I am afraid that parents also have their own problems which make them have little time and patience to listen to their children. Adults are not happy, how can their children be?Making children happy is not only up to the families but also up to the whole community.

  • 392.
  • At 05:00 AM on 16 Feb 2007,
  • vikram wrote:

i think sex education is the most important thing for children cos' it solves all the problems facing the universe

  • 393.
  • At 04:51 PM on 16 Feb 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

The recent prohibition of smacking a child is the current problem.
30 Years ago I smacked my daughter once only, it has made a great difference to our lives and those who know her.
She was doing something (I have forgotten what) and was told to stop - she did not. I explained to her "I will count to three slowly and if you have not stopped by the time I get to three you will be smacked"
On reaching "three" when she did not stop I gave her a painful slap on the leg.
All that was ever required after this was "One - ".

She now uses this system with her own children very successfully.

The children know their boundaries and keep within.

There is enormous love within the family where the children not only help but offer their help to anyone in need.

  • 394.
  • At 05:41 PM on 16 Feb 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Thank you everyone for a very interesting and passionate debate about this...

...I'm by no means an aurthority on these things but I come to realise that this is an intensly complicated problem with no diffinitive answer.

It seems pretty obvious from this debate that the problems we are experiencing are related to a balance between: -

A) the personal need for interdependant communial social relations


B) the need for personal freedom

Remember - Yes, a functioning community is great but can be a prison that cut's people off from the outside world due to the demands of local politics. Communities can be oppressive. One the otherhand freedom without constraints of social responsibilty to give a sustainable and fair society breads an intense frenzy of survival of the fittest natural selection narcastic mentality - so extremes of both approaches can be de-humanising (let's remember it's retaining our human qualities thta's most important here)

You can force people how to behave because that's just faschism.

You can have one approach without the other because then you don't get progress in our quality of life.

It's all a bit Catch-22 involving many virables that can easily tip the balance.

You know we hae had a scare - a feedback if you like - but the system is made up of each of us. So at the end of the day if we feel that there is something wrong then you know what to do don't you?

  • 395.
  • At 09:03 PM on 16 Feb 2007,
  • Rosemary wrote:

I was impressed with this programme, felt the guests were very knowledgeable and had some sensible views - for a change. Helping parenting, improving community values, respect for authority, letting headteachers be headteachers without govt interference, returning to Christian values - much needs to change, much can be done, hopefully we can move in the right direction. I was also impressed that the Scottish MP didnt try to cover up missed targets etc but stated what he was going to do to take things forward. So often it seems that nothing much gets done but talk and waffle - confidence is lost with most politicians because of this.

  • 396.
  • At 12:12 PM on 18 Feb 2007,
  • J F K wrote:

Tellingly, Britain and the United States scored bottom on UN ratings for providing a decent quality of life for young people. Young Anglo-Americans are the least healthy, least happy, least prosperous and least socially integrated of any young people in the developed world. If both of these nations ate a diet of peanut butter, newspapers and learned journals would be trumpeting it from the treetops. The fact that the two countries with the most troubled young people are Anglo-Saxon scarcely merits mention – yet is surely of vast significance.

Across a set of six factors we are told that Britain and the USA ranked lowest out of 21 countries. The 6 categories were poverty and inequality; health and safety; education; family and friendships; sex, drink and drugs; and general happiness.

The feature most obviously associated with this social dysfunction is Anglo-Saxon culture itself. Why else would the two major Anglo Saxon countries feature bottom of a 21-strong list of the world’s advanced nations? The only common thread linking these 2 societies is Anglo-Saxon culture – in terms of size, location, military expenditure, welfare expenditure, crime and other demographic features, the two countries are entirely different.

The only common feature that unites them is a puritanical, punitive social system defined by caste-like inequality and trans-generational economic disparity – in other words, Anglo Saxon culture. Of course, a specific feature of Anglo-American culture is central to the problems identified by UNICEF – namely the comparatively high incidence of broken or disrupted families in the Anglo-American world. Such families (typically headed by a lone female) are far more likely to produce insecure children and damaged adults. As Jonathon Brown said in the Independent:

Among OECD counties [sic], the UK had the second highest number of children living in single-parent families or with step-parents. Italy, Greece and Poland, traditional Catholic countries, enjoyed the most stable families. The authors said there was a well-established link between family breakdown, educational failure, poor health and reduced life chances.

But wait – what is the real source of these dysfunctional families that cause so much misery? Britain and the United States have the highest Divorce rates in the Europe and the world, respectively. In both countries fathers have few rights of access to their children, and are typically blamed for dissolution of the relationship. In both countries women institute the vast majority of Divorce proceedings (minimally 70%) and, in the aftermath, take the lion’s share of property and status. Both countries are built on a puritanical template and are dominated by a malicious form of feminism that vilifies men while allowing women to square traditional privileges with new-found ‘rights’. This latter development, namely the unique brand of socially-destructive, misandrist Anglo-American feminism, is essentially the root of the family disruption obliquely addressed in the UNICEF report. Only the United States has more disrupted families than the UK. Language or geography must be less significant than culture in this malaise: Ireland, a former British dominion and still strongly influenced by British historical precedent (although distinctively Catholic and cohesive) scores in the middle of the overall rankings. Canada likewise places in the middle, like a large Continental country, despite being a close neighbour of the US. However, it is partly French speaking and bears the mark of ‘organic’ European culture.

Overall, it is hard to doubt that Anglo-Saxon culture contains some unfortunate ingredients that inhibit the maintenance of stable families. Some of the issues highlighted in the report are directly attributable to Anglo-American values. For example, the comparatively high incidence of teenaged pregnancy in the UK can partly be traced to the sexual ignorance foisted on the population by a puritanical Establishment. These crabbed Victorian fanatics deny the reality of human nature, pretending that uneducated teenagers with low life-chances are so many monks and nuns. Denied rational sex-education and access to sexual knowledge by demented puritans, underclass youngsters are doomed to breeding more hopeless and impoverished generations. Anglo-Saxon repression has inadvertently locked a whole generation into crime, failure and Welfare dependence.

In the Nordic countries and Holland, where rigorous sex education, hardcore pornography and readily available contraception are the casual norm, teenaged pregnancy is comparatively low. In a bizarre twist, Anglo-American Puritanism promotes the very behaviour and outcomes it claims to oppose: by contrast, a rational, honest approach to the management of desire yields sensible results.

While the Conservatives try to make cheap political capital from the UNICEF study, it is worth pointing out that the problems alluded to in this report are scarcely new. A British school inspector visiting Switzerland in the 19th century could not believe the Swiss children were from the working classes, as all were properly dressed, clean and free of disease. This was a revelation to a Victorian Englishman: most British children were typically dirty, ill, undernourished and clad in rags.

The most obvious finding of the report is that Anglo-Saxon culture itself is largely to blame for these iniquities. Why else would Britain and the US be at the bottom of the overall list? The specific class system that prevails in the Anglo-American world promotes youth alienation by hobbling children with low life chances and expectations at an early age. The Anglo-Saxon cult of rampant individuality has reduced the security people derive from family, peer groups and society itself. The Anglo-American media actively promote a ‘lottery culture’ wherein people are plucked from obscurity to become 'rock stars, film stars and millionaires'. In itself this reflects a deep dissatisfaction with normal life: but it also promotes this unhappiness further.

Britain has always offered an abysmal quality of life for most of its people. Only recently has it been possible to compare this with foreign alternatives – which is why 200 000 a year are now leaving.

  • 397.
  • At 02:51 PM on 18 Feb 2007,
  • Hisham Al Shammary wrote:

Making cildren happy is neither a matter of high education nor of a higher social level.Actually,it is the outcome of experiences...!!!

  • 398.
  • At 04:40 PM on 19 Feb 2007,
  • Emily Jeffrey wrote:

I am amazed at how a programme held in such high esteem as Newsnight can fail to show objectivity in its approach to political parties. Only Labour and Conservative MPs were invited to comment on the findings of this important report by UNICEF. Yet on the same programme a Lib Dem MP was picked out to be castigated for his travel expenses claim.

How can Newsnight expect to be taken seriously when it highjacks its own reports for petty point scoring? Is it reasonable for a programme which is supposed to be objective to only give air time to 2 political parties and ignore 1 which represents nearly a quarter - 22% - of the UK population?

As a member of the voting public I was really disappointed that such a significant report on the wellbeing of our children which shone a light on the devestating effects of our lifestyles was not discussed with all 3 main political parties. We need radical solutions to the problems discussed during this programme and to cut one party out of that process was a terrible and irresponsible mistake on Newsnight's part.

  • 399.
  • At 02:59 AM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • zackry ruhizat wrote:

Religious knowledge is the best thing in this world for parents to give to their children. True religious knowledge. Because with true religious knowledge, makes anyone in this world knows the true path to better life, happiness and everything needed for life. Whether you are Christians, Muslims, Buddists or any other known religion, NO religion teaches anyone the path to hell. The world now is an unsafe place. Wherever you go, there are always chaos and distruptions and uncertainty of safetiness. It is because most of the human race lacks of true regilious knowledge. Remember the 10 commandmants. Most of us have forgotton about it. The greedy feeling of individuals have brought this world into uncertainty. Why should it happen this way. We the fathers and mothers of our children should from now implant the necessisity of true religious knowledge. To be able to distinguished which is right and which is wrong. To analyse the true answer to why things happen and to find the true solutions without shedding more blood or losts of lives. I notice that god is now very angry to us because we dont remember HIM and fogets all his teachings. God has all the rights to punish his followers. That's way nowadays we hear lot of natural disasters like Hurricane, Uncureable deaseases and many more. These are signs given by God that human should turn back to HIS true teachings, As such, we as parents dont want our children to live in this world much worse that it is today.

  • 400.
  • At 06:11 PM on 20 Feb 2007,
  • Jide wrote:

A lot of people here have to a large extent got the primary prerequisites to attaining happy children-love,security etc. A few really delved deeper into the subject matter. One person touched on the aspect of parents devoid of emotion and battling trauma themselves expected to perform monumental tasks like knowing when to say no to a child & believe its right.
A happy child is not just down to being able to provide and procure items that'll always put a smile on their lovely faces. Society needs to understand that these young ones need boundaries in order to thrive and cope later on in life like the minority of us that were given these values.
It's disheartening when one sees the incessant scenes which can be seen on any given day out between todays parent/child interaction where the child sets the rules where the harpless parent looks on like an uninvited spectator too frightened to impose any kind of desent.
I believe government needs to be involved in the monitoring of how its future tax payers & parents are been brought up but not to the extent of 'nannying' us all to death. By now,any rational reasoning adult let alone a parent knows what works with kids. And by the way parenting is not a pure science rather a social one [science]. Most definitely it's an acquired skill learned from a diverse combination of societal inputs ie education, and enlightenment derived from a tolerant and vigilant surrounding that's not too scared to tag a spade for fear of being labeled non PC from the brigade.
Especially with the spate of recent teen on teen violence. Is anybody going to say non of these teens weren't provided for? Emphatic NO! We need to stop buying into the believe that if these kids are given everything they WANT and those irrelevance that we think they should have that'll make them forever smiling people lovers. They need parents to be steadfast and a state that though supports should never dominate.

  • 401.
  • At 05:29 PM on 27 Feb 2007,
  • Nancy wrote:

I've just been to the Hogarth exhibition at Tate Britain and it seems that our concerns and worries about family have been with us for centuries. What is obvious is that a strong welfare state can soften some of the edges that accompany family break-down. Sweden has a much higher proportion of single parents and yet have healthier and happier children.
The powers that be do not want the converstion to stray into the realm where we must talk about the general population sharing some of the wealth of this very rich country.
Hogarth painted about a rising mercantile class who prospered and consumed at an incredible rate but left millions excluded from sharing the wealth. The consequence was the fracturing and breaking up of society.The disparity between rich and poor was vast and the insecurity that people felt was all pervasive.The 1960's were a time of economic prosperity but a time when a greater number of people could share in the wealth.In 2007 the city boomed, it overtook New York as the capital of world finance and yet for millions of us it passed us by.
They are closing libraries in my area, they a closing the museum, my local hospital might close and services are generally pretty awful.
Civil life,community cohesion and respect must be cultivated in a climate of plenty (because there is plenty) and before someone goes on about living in a family of ten all squahed up with nothing but bread for tea then I would have to say that those conditions bought about global violence and hatred as shown by two world wars.Whether it expresses itself individually where people are just nasty to each other or through politics and war then

  • 402.
  • At 11:20 AM on 05 Mar 2007,
  • Angelo wrote:

First, a loving extended family.

  • 403.
  • At 01:54 PM on 08 Nov 2007,
  • natalie wrote:

hello.. 352. At 03:19 PM on 14 Feb 2007, Margaret Harley wrote:
I think kids like to be with their parents or close family and would prefer not to be sent to after school clubs etc. I know this isn't always possible as in most families both parents need to work full time. The role of the full time mother, however, is not valued by society or the government. There are always new benefits given to those using child care but none to those who choose not to leave their children with childminders, after school clubs etc. I haven't yet heard any interviewer ask members of government why they are so keen to encourage parents back to work and not to stay with their own kids! I'm not suggesting benefits for homemakers but some tax relief on my husband's salary would be nice

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