The Big Question

LEN SMITH – Gypsy activist
I agree that society is now far too competitive and has been on a downward slope for a long time, boosted by the selfishness of the Thatcher era. Nowadays, kids have become models on which to exhibit the “success” of their parents, and children exploit this. Certainly, children and young people seem less happy in general than they did in my day.

ANGIE LAWRENCE – Single mother
Many children live with parents who are rarely there. The main reason for this is society’s material code for success which dictates that money and possession of the latest product are of prime importance. The children are incidental. As a result, they are often left to their own devices. They become mini-adults long before they are psychologically ready.

KAREN SHOOK – Disability equality adviser
Children are under more pressure from all sides from an early age. This is especially true at school, with pressure for results. I was astonished in July when my nearly threeyear- old goddaughter and her 14-month-old brother were given “official reports” for the term. When I was a child, imaginative play and respect for society were the norm.

Although children are privileged in many ways, they’re also often unhappy. Everyone is incredibly competitive, wanting their children to have the best gadgets rather than spending quality time with them. Parents are overstretched – the material side of life has taken over from the spiritual and emotional side. The result is a generation of latchkey children.

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