New research shows adults changing attitudes towards children.
In partnership with The University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan University and Curtin University, the Valuing Children Initiative conducted the ‘Exploring Australian Adults’ Attitudes Towards Children for a Better Future 2023’ survey which asked 1008 adults across Australia how they felt about children and young people, and compared results from the same survey conducted in 2016.
The report, which was launched Wednesday 25 October, made six recommendations including new mechanisms to amplify children’s voices, greater support for families to facilitate children’s development, school-based programs that empower children, better advocacy for children’s rights and further research that impact children’s lives.
Valuing Children Initiative founder and Centrecare Inc Director, Adj Professor Tony Pietropiccolo said interestingly adults’ attitudes about children reported in this research have changed to ‘fortunate’, ‘tech savvy’ and ‘honest’ with less ‘selfish’, ‘lazy’ or ‘spoilt’ than in the 2016 study.
“Adults also believe that governments give ‘too little’ consideration to children when making decisions while 75 per cent of adults agreed the best interests of children should be considered in all decision making,” Adj Prof Pietropiccolo said.
“Mental health concerns ranked the highest issue children faced, followed by family, education, drug, and alcohol, while parents found financial pressure was their greatest concern when raising or caring for children,” he continued.
The research again highlighted that there is more to do for children and young people to address the epidemic of poor mental health.
“Adults are telling us that they want and need support in their families and that this is a community and societal issue that we all need to take responsibility for,” Adj Prof Pietropiccolo said.
“The VCI believes listening to children is not only their human right, but also gives children a sense of belonging and responsibility, which increases their wellbeing and agency in our community,” he said.
Adj Prof Pietropiccolo continued by saying that the VCI encourages to the report in future policy decisions, to ask children their views by using a Child and Youth Impact Assessment Tool and to build a pathway to better understanding the needs of children.
“This ensures that we construct their world ‘with them’, not ‘to them’,” he said.
Six key recommendations of the report include
1. Amplifying Children’s Voices: Creating inclusive mechanisms such as Child and Youth Impact Assessment Tools to enable children to actively engage in decision-making, including shaping policies that systematically prioritise their interests across various sectors.
2. Supporting Parents and Families: Enhanced support for parents through programs and initiatives that offer parenting education, guidance, and resources to promote healthier family dynamics and facilitate children’s development.
3. Increased Provision of Education Programs: Schools should introduce programs that empower children with skills to address modern challenges, including online safety, mental health awareness, and critical thinking.
4. Accessible Mental Health Support: Ensuring children have access to mental health support which is tailored to their individual needs. Including increasing youth mental health services both within educational settings and the broader community.
5. Increased Advocacy: Increasing advocacy to protect children’s rights and ensure that the issues affecting children, such as climate change, remain at the forefront of public discourse.
6. Future Research: Ongoing research is vital to understand evolving issues impacting children and shape adaptive policies. Future studies, extending beyond surveys, will involve in-depth interviews to explore different contexts and track evolving attitudes towards children over time.
For more information, go to https://valuingchildreninitiative.com.au/the-valuing-children-initiative-survey-2023/