The Children’s Society have been publishing ground-breaking research into children’s wellbeing since 2006, listening to young people’s voices and conducting in-depth interviews that allow them to present their distinctive views and experiences. The Good Childhood Report 2017 provides fresh insight into children’s well-being, in children and young people’s own words.
The voices of young people indicate that they are not happy in every area of their lives, with fear of crime lowering children’s well-being. One in three teenage girls are afraid of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys are worried they’ll be assaulted.
As Christians, we are called to protect all vulnerable people, and especially the young. It’s important, then, not to ignore this vital research.
Growing up I was an avid reader of the Mr Men and Little Miss series. My favourite of this series was, and still is, the story of Mr Topsy-Turvy. I found it hilarious that Mr Topsy-Turvy does the exact opposite of what all the other characters do. He does things like putting his socks on his hands rather than his feet and saying “afternoon good” instead of “good afternoon”. Mr Topsy-Turvy’s world is completely different to what we expect.
God often does the exact opposite of what we expect. Throughout the narrative of the Gospels, Jesus tells the religious teachers that they are completely wrong about their understanding of God’s action in the world. God does not prefer those who keep all religious commandments, nor those who have great wealth. In fact, Jesus says exactly the opposite in Matthew 5, describing those facing difficult situations as ‘blessed’. Those who are poor, suffering and marginalised all have a place in the Kingdom of God.
The Church is called to shout about justice, to champion those who have escalating problems, to “open our ears to the cry of the poor”. We might look silly putting our socks on our hands, but we are called to live in an upside down world. Do take the time to consider the impact you can have, with and through your church community.
The Children’s Society are taking action to ensure that every child has the best possible childhood. Funding for early help services alone is expected to be cut by 70% between 2010 and 2020, leaving a £2 billion gap that will have a devastating impact on young people.
Teenagers need urgent help, but the services there to support them are being cut. Our recommendations are:
1) The Government must fill the widening gap in funding for children’s services so that support is available locally for young people who need it most.
2) Local councils must make sure that all local agencies - like police, schools and others - work together to make the well-being of children who are experiencing multiple disadvantage a top priority.
The Children’s Society are asking the government for more local funding to help young people before they hit crisis point. By harnessing the collective impact of churches working together, there is incredible potential for change. Together, we can help young people get the support they need.