The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Let's Think of the Children One More Time

The United Nations has at last made official what so many of us already know: Britain's children are miserable little beasts. Unicef assessed child welfare according to six sets of criteria: material wellbeing, or lack of spiritual values; health and safety, or lack of British adventurosity; educational wellbeing, or lack of namby-pamby social-scientistic teaching programmes; family and peer relationships, or lack of British emotional control; behaviours and risks, or lack of electronic tagging devices; and the young people's own perceptions of their wellbeing. The last of these was assessed, in part, by asking whether children find their peers to be "kind and helpful"; presumably because few of them are literate enough to answer the question "Do you live in the real world or in an Enid Blyton story?" Another factor was "how many say they eat the main meal of the day with their parents more than once a week"; it is not clear whether participants were asked whether the banquet was Walkman-optional, or whether the table-talk was up to the same level as can be heard on the street: "fackin eat it", for example.

Britain has the largest percentage, "by a considerable distance", of young people who smoke, drink, take drugs and are sexually ignorant and/or pregnant. Even the United States, it seems, cannot match our performance in these regards. The Government responded with the usual seven hundred thousand unprecedented investment recent improvements continuing proportion and so forth. Apparently the data used by Unicef is several years old - circa 2000-2003 vintage, long before Tony and his chums had any influence over the well-being of Britain's children, and certainly before such brilliant ideas as faith schools or Government-enforced neglect were placed on the agenda.


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