Individualism, lack of love blighting children’s lives: survey

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London : Increasing family break-ups, too much competition at school and “excessive individualism” are making children’s lives harder than before, according to the findings of the largest-ever survey of childhood experiences in Britain published Monday.

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The Good Childhood Inquiry, the result of three years of research carried out by a panel of independent experts, called for a sea-change in social attitudes and government policies to counter the damage done to children.

Family break-up, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and income inequality are mentioned as major contributing factors.

The report was commissioned by the Church-affiliated Children’s Society and included submissions from more than 35,000 organisations, parents and children.

It cited research as suggesting that three times as many three-year-olds living with a single or step-parent have behavioural problems compared with those living with married parents.

“Compared with a century ago two changes stand out. First, most women now work outside the home and have careers as well as being mothers,” the report said.

“The second change is the rise in family break-up. Women’s new economic independence contributes to this rise. It has made women much less dependent on their male partners, as has the advent of the welfare state.”

“Most women now work and their new economic independence contributes to levels of family break-up which are higher in the UK than in any other Western European country.”

The paper says couples need to be trained in parenting skills, and emphasises their need to love each other and their children.

“Children need above all to be loved. Unless they are loved, they will not feel good about themselves, and will in turn find it difficult to love others. What is needed is unconditional love of children as people.”

It follows a 2007 report of 21 industrialised countries by the UN children’s agency UNICEF, which said that Britain’s children are the unhappiest in the West.