This page contains some documents and research on the lives of young children in
the UK, in Europe and across the world.
1. Child abuse and neglect in the UK today (2011)
This document updates the information collected by the NSPCC in 1988/89 and in
2009, by interviewing a large number of
children, parents and young people and comparing the results.
Read the key findings on the NSPCC website, where you can also download the full
2. The children left behind; A league table of inequality in child well-being in
the world’s rich countries (2010)
This report enables us to compare equality in children’s experiences with those in the best performing countries.
“Whether in health, in education, or in material well-being, some children will
always fall behind the average. The critical
question is – how far behind? Is there a point beyond which falling behind is not inevitable
but policy susceptible, not
unavoidable but unacceptable, not inequality but inequity?
There are no widely agreed theoretical answers to these questions. Report Card 9
seeks to stimulate debate on the issue by
introducing a common measure of ‘bottom-end inequality’.
This permits each country’s performance to be assessed according to the standard of what the
have been able to achieve. Such a standard may not represent the best that may
be aspired to in theory, but in practice it
suggests a level below which ‘falling behind’ is manifestly not inevitable.”
The report was written before the impact of the global recession had been felt
in full. It is interesting to see where the UK came
in these comparisons. One can only surmise that things may well get worse.
3. Children and the Big Society ResPublica and For Children (2011)
The Coalition Government has made clear its intention to encourage greater
participation in local decision making and to shift
ownership of assets and of initiative into the hands of local individual, groups
and communities. This agenda has enormous
potential for delivering new ways of supporting children, young people and
families, but the connections between the Big
Society agenda and children have not been fully considered. How do we ensure
that children and young people – often
members of a community with only a small voice – can contribute to building and can benefit from safe and friendly
In this report we put the spotlight on children, young people and their
families. We map out ways to generate child-friendly and
family-friendly communities and explore how this can transform the well-being,
safety and life chances of children and young
Read or download summaries and the full report at:
(Two years later, I wonder where the ‘Big Society’ has gone, and where the promises to the children of the UK are now - SF).
4. The Foundation Years; Preventing poor children from becoming poor adults Frank Field (2010)
‘The Review has concluded that the UK needs to address the issue of child poverty
in a fundamentally different way if it is to
make a real change to children’s life chances as adults.
We have found overwhelming evidence that children’s life chances are most heavily predicated on their development in the
first five years of life. It is family background, parental education, good
parenting and the opportunities for learning and
development in those crucial years that together matter more than money, in
determining whether their potential is realized in
adult life. The things that matter most are a healthy pregnancy; good maternal
mental health; secure bonding with the child;
love and responsiveness of parents along with clear boundaries, as well as
opportunities for a child’s cognitive, language and
social and emotional development. Good services matter too; Health services,
Children’s Centres and high quality childcare.
Later interventions to help poorly performing children can be effective but, in
general, the most effective way to help and
support young families is in the earliest years of a child’s life.
By the age of three, a baby’s brain is 80% formed ad his or her experiences before then shape the way the
brain has grown and
developed. That is not to say, of course, it is all over by then, but ability
profiles at that age are highly predictive of profiles at
school entry. By school age, there are very wide variations in children’s abilities and the evidence is clear that children from
poorer backgrounds do worse cognitively and behaviourally than those from more
affluent homes. Schools do not effectively
close that gap; children who arrive in the bottom range of ability tend to stay
5. Starting Smart – how Early Experiences affect Brain Development Zero to three (2000)
‘Michael Stevens is a healthy, beautiful newborn baby. As his parents admire him,
they wonder, "What will Michael be like
when he grows up? Will he do well in school? Will he get along with other kids
and be happy?" Scientists now believe that the
answers to these questions depend in large part on how young Michael’s brain develops, and that this development in turn
depends largely on the nutritional, medical, emotional, and intellectual support
his parents, extended family, and community
provide for him during his childhood.’
If you want to know more about how babies get smart, read this!!