The British Betrayal Of Childhood
The new book ‘The British Betrayal of Childhood’ confronts and explores the reality of childhood in one of the most unequal societies in the developed world.
A must-read for those engaged in children’s services, policy and parenting in the UK. Sir Al confronts the obstacles and attitudes faced by young people today with tact, honesty and compassion, to offer his vision of a society in which each and every child is valued.
Endorsements for the book
This book makes a compelling case about the need for action. Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green gives a very powerful and personal examination of whether we are creating the right environment for children and young people to flourish. Al brings a host of good ideas from the UK and abroad to suggest positive actions that could make a difference. This adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that as a society we need to act.Nigel Edwards, Chief Executive, Nuffield Trust, UK
Passionate, personal and professional, this expansive and compelling book spans time and place, evidence and observation to ask demanding questions about our attitude, investment and practice for children in the UK. With razor-sharp insight and unstinting courage and compassion, Al Aynsley-Green demands answers from us all on how we shall act to achieve equality and change the world for children and he will not rest until he gets them. Thomas Coram would be proudDr Carol Homden CBE, Chief Executive of the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children (Coram)
We don’t live in Victorian Britain: children do need to be seen and heard, indeed welcomed and celebrated in our society. Our relative indifference to the plight of young people, particularly from deprived settings, is shameful – they are our lifeblood and it is crucial that we find ways of making them valued and celebrated rather than marginalised and subservient to adult values. In this passionate book the author, an immensely experienced paediatrician who was the first Children’s Tsar in the Department of Health in Westminster and then the first Children’s Commissioner for England reinforces the need for greater institutional humanity towards our younger population. In line with his hero Thomas Coran’s rallying cry, “Courage, Compassion and Commitment” this is a timely imperative to make us think again.Professor Pali Hungin, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, UK, and Past President, British Medical Association 2016-17
Sir Al’s colourful style hits the target and there is no doubt that this is pure Aynsley-Green, driven by passion and empathy for the nation’s children – all of them, without exception. And the need to challenge everyone involved especially in Youth Justice policy and practice to reflect more about what they do, how they do it, why and could or should they be doing it differently, better and with greater humanity.
His approach is eminently readable, and a unique reflection of his personal experiences of what life is really like for those detained in the secure estate for children. It’s an uncomfortable read. The picture he paints is not a pretty one and a poor reflection of our nation’s humanity. His challenges are genuine, timely and he is quite right to demand a rethink.Malcolm Stevens, former Government’s lead youth justice Social Services Inspector and the first UK Commissioner to the International Juvenile Justice Observatory in Brussels, Belgium
In this provocative and timely book Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green shines a forensic light on the position of children in Britain today. Arguing that our society is, at best, indifferent to children and their welfare, he exposes a wide range of problems and proposes transformative solutions. A must-read for anyone who cares about children, their rights and their well-being.Professor Carrie Paechter, Director, Nottingham Centre for Children, Young People and Families, Nottingham Trent University, UK
I have heard Sir Al speak on several occasions and never fail to be impressed and moved by his knowledge, experience, expertise and passion. He is a true Champion for Children and has used his considerable intellect to back up the emotion he experiences – a rare combination. This book will surprise and even shock many people but above all I hope it will turn his words into their action.Graham Morgan, Director and Chairman, Evolve, UK
About the book
We have a dramatically changing demography with more people living longer and fewer working age adults to support their needs. So, through a hard economic lens, we need healthy, educated, creative and resilient, happy children now acquiring the life skills to make their way in life and for those who can to be productive adults and competent parents in due course.
But, we must move away from seeing children just as an economic asset. Every child really does matter in her or his own right, including those who may never want to be a parent or be able, through disability or vulnerability, to contribute meaningfully to hard economic indicators. They are just as deserving of focus for their needs.
Moreover, children are citizens in their own right and not just the chattels of parents. They need rights to have a childhood, be protected from harm, have support to meet their needs and participate in matters that affect them – Protection, Provision and Participation are, after all the fundamental principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the world’s most important ‘road map’ for childhood1.
Each child is a unique human being and deserves to have hope and the opportunities to achieve full potential. We adults have a responsibility to ensure that we nurture them to allow this. Are we doing so?
Part I: Why should we be concerned about children?
Chapter 1: Where have we come from?
Chapter 2: Why are other countries so good for children?
Part II: Childhood in the UK today
Chapter 3: What’s it like to be young in the UK today?
Chapter 4: Insights into the socio-political betrayal of children
Chapter 5: The biggest betrayals of childhood
Part III: How can we bring about change?
Chapter 6: Bringing about change
Chapter 7: Endnote