Well-being of children ‘losing ground as attention switches to protection’

The government might be over-focusing on child protection and
controlling children at the expense of their well-being, a leading
academic warned last week.

Jonathan Bradshaw, professor of social policy at the University of
York, said a survey on children’s overall well-being should be a
“national priority”.

He said the now defunct children and young people’s unit had been
planning such a survey but it was stopped when the unit was
replaced by the children and young people’s directorate.

Bradshaw told a seminar on researching the well-being of children,
organised by the Policy Studies Institute, that it was “very
regrettable” the work had been stopped.

“We have no data telling us what children think and feel about
their lives,” he said. “Is the [children and young people’s]
minister [Margaret Hodge] interested in well-being or is her
department only interested in the child protection agenda? I hope
the recent dropping of that work does not mean this.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education and Skills said the
survey had been “put on hold at the moment”. She added that it had
been intended as part of the unit’s overarching strategy for
children’s services in England – which itself remains

Bradshaw added that, although the Treasury and the Department for
Work and Pensions were considering child poverty in their policies,
other government departments, including the Department of Health,
and local authorities were not. “They haven’t really taken on the
agenda yet,” he said.

He called for a subjective measure of poverty to be included in the
government’s new definition of child poverty. This includes a
measure of absolute low income, relative low income and material
deprivation combined with low income. Bradshaw said a subjective
measure could involve asking parents and children whether they felt

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