A recent big post-pandemic survey of 4 to 17 year olds in England gives us a positive picture of their lives. Most are already happy at home and in their mental health; they’re pleased to be back at school. All of them are clear about what matters most. Whatever kind of family they have – and naturally for those who don’t have one – children simply want happy homes.
They [children] believe in family. Not just the nuclear family – families of all kinds. Simply, they want happy homes.Dame Rachel de Souza, Childrens Commissioner for England
Yes, there’s scope for more support for children’s hopes and ambitions and to help those who need it. Yet Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza says the children are heroes.
Half a million took part – over 5% of all 4 to 17 year olds in England. Four out of five say they’re happy or okay with their family life, with their school or college life, and in their mental health. And many youngsters expect to have a better life than their parents have.
Dame Rachel says that the Big Ask survey “has shown us you are brave, ambitious, determined, resilient. … You want the world to be a fair place for everybody. You care about your friends. You care about the environment and want to make sure it’s looked after now, and in the future too.”
Families of all kinds
Young people raised concerns about social media. Vulnerable and disadvantaged children responded in large numbers. The positive picture should not obscure the needs of one in five with more troubled stories. The survey didn’t focus in on the widely diverse shape of families and separated families now.
What children say they want isn’t always what’s best for them. Here, experts completely agree with them. All the evidence confirms what we all know:
Whatever the shape of a child’s family and home, separated or whatever – home is “a fundamental pillar of children’s lives, and supports their happiness”. Making a child’s home relationships safe and healthy is top priority. And that helps get everything else on track.
This is now the moment to support the family for all childrenThe Big Ask, Big Answers (England’s Children’s Commissioner, 2021)
Children as heroes and home-birds is good news and tacit common knowledge around the world. Media headlines prefer bad news. This survey calls us to work for a positive culture change on the way to build what matters most for children.
Half a million youngsters make it crystal clear: to thrive in all aspects of life, children simply want happy homes.
See the full Big Ask Big Answer report here.