The Good Childhood Report, conducted by The Children’s Society, concluded that children and young people may be prevented from reflecting favourably on their upbringing as a result of disadvantages.
The Good Childhood Report 2017 presents the extent of these disadvantages, such as exposure to crime and abuse, and the occurrence of multiple disadvantage which can cause further damage. This multiple disadvantage can cast children into a spiral of unhappiness which can be really difficult to support. Children facing 7 or more of the 27 serious problems identified by The Children’s Society were 10 times more likely to be unhappy than those with none.
The notion of happiness is obviously hard to quantify, but regardless of this it remains a serious issue that we need to meet with targeted and well-researched support.
It was discovered that 200,000 children aged 10 to 17 are experiencing emotional neglect, and a third are living in families who struggle to pay the bills. Additionally, one in four boys feel at risk of abuse. These are just several of the shocking statistics included in the full Good Childhood Report.
Local authorities clearly play a crucial role in supporting children and families as a whole to overcome a wide variety of problems. With lack of funding and budget cuts instigated by the government, the chasm between the scale of need and the money available is only ever increasing. An urgent review is necessary if change is to ever emerge.
A case study is provided of an 11-year-old girl called Mia, recounting her first year at secondary school:
Mia is 11 years old and in her first year at secondary school. She lives with her mum and two younger brothers in a flat where she has lived for the past year. She spends alternate weekends with her dad who lives in a neighbouring town. Mia’s dad is no longer able to work due to health problems, and her mum is currently a full time mum.
Poverty structures many aspects of Mia’s everyday life – where she can go, what she can do and whether she gets to go on holiday. Drugs, alcohol and mental health problems have featured powerfully in the lives of some of Mia’s closest relatives and family friends.
She has witnessed the devastating effects of interpersonal violence and the ways in which it can tear lives apart.
Many of the adversities that we tend to think of in relation to multiple disadvantage – poverty, violence, substance misuse, mental health problems and homelessness – are present in Mia’s life. But in Mia’s case it is the experience of these, in addition to other less obvious hardships, that are also important.
She has moved seven times in the last nine years. This has affected the way she approaches neighbourhood friendships – never getting too close to other children in a new area – and it has prevented her from putting down roots in a place she can call home.
One of the things that really bothers Mia is the way her neighbours shout and scream all the time, race their noisy motorbikes up and down the road and bang their front door open and shut 24 hours a day, creating an environment of stress and heightened insecurity.
If Mia could help her family in any way she would give them more money. Not a lot more, but just a ‘normal’ amount – enough for her mum to stop worrying all the time and maybe even treat herself every now and then without feeling guilty. And if Mia could change anything in her own life she would create a future for herself free from sadness and anger, where she would be happy and remain so for the rest of her life.
To access the full report from The Children’s Society, click here.