There is a children’s interests aspect to many of the news items of the day. These stories are largely untold.
I am aiming in this blog to fill a gap in public commentary by making some points on behalf of children. There is an active children’s movement in New Zealand, part of a world-wide movement that has seen the rise of children’s studies in academia, increasing specialisation for children in law, medicine and other fields and greater acknowledgement by governments of children’s rights and interests.
These developments are yet to be made into a coherent story that places the lives of children and their place in our world on a level with the understanding we have of the lives of adults. Children appear in public discourse as objects of concern rather than real people. The prominent themes in recent years that relate to children have been poverty and ill-treatment which is well and good but is only a beginning in making a place for children in all their diversity.
The solutions to child poverty and child ill-treatment will come from an appreciation by the wider public of the reality of these children’s lives and a sense of responsibility toward them. Parents and other family, of course, share that responsibility to the degree that they are able. A more rounded knowledge of the situation in which children find themselves is needed.
In the public discussion in the past couple of years on child poverty the question of how it is to be measured has been presented as if it were an unsolved mystery. Sophisticated measures of child poverty and deprivation over time along with indicators of child well-being based on extensive local and international research have been available in New Zealand for decades.
The Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group last year provided a discussion of the measures and their meaning and more recently the JR McKenzie Foundation has funded a monitoring programme.
As well as the story of the lives of children and the initiatives that aim to improve their prospects, there is a children’s interests aspect to many of the news items of the day. These stories are largely untold. I would like to contribute to ensuring that they are told and heard.
1 Qvortrup, J., Corsaro, W., Honig, M-S (Eds.) (2011) The Palgrave handbook of childhood studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
2 United Nations. (1992) The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child / He Hui Whakatau I te Mana o te Tamaiti a te Whakakotahitanga o nga Whenua o te Ao. Wellington: Office of the Commissioner for Children, Unicef New Zealand
3 Boston, J., Chapple, S. (2014) Child poverty in New Zealand. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books. p.258
4 Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty. (2012) Solutions to child poverty in New Zealand: Evidence for action. Wellington: Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
5 NZ Child and Youth Epidemiology Service (2014) Child poverty monitor: Technical report. www.nzchildren.co.nz accessed 16.08.14.