The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Our Children
Posted Thursday, 7 June 2007 at 10:37

Please note the Blog below was originally posted on the Cornerstone group website yesterday, where I am the guest blogger for this week.

Teachers are complaining that when some children begin their education, they no longer know how to share, socialise, or even make friends - creating problems within the classroom and necessitating teachers to teach the most basic of interpersonal skills.

We have a problem with childhood obesity - for the first time ever it is predicted that parents of today will be the first generation to begin to outlive its offspring. And according to UNICEF, British children are the unhappiest in Europe, by a long way.

What are we doing to our kids?

It would be some comfort to think that an entire generation of parents were wrapping children up in cotton wool and living by the stranger danger code, thereby misguidedly killing childhood with love. Unfortunately the problem is two fold, each problem resulting in the same outcome.

The ‘afraid to let the kids move’ parents are the first half of the problem, but  there are also parents who allow the computer, TV and play stations to dominate their children’s lives, and find it easier to let this happen. In many households, parenting has been handed over to a console. Many parents justify this occupation of their children’s mind by a third inanimate by saying, “at least if he’s in his bedroom he’s not out on the streets”. The inference being that the streets are a bad place to be and full of stranger danger.

Our streets are not dangerous, in the way almost all children and parents think today anyway.

While he is sat in his bedroom avoiding the imaginary child abusers and kidnappers, he’s also not socialising, making friends, sharing, compromising, extending his imagination, learning to be creative, playing, getting muddy, ripping trousers, falling out of trees, making dens, kicking a ball around or pushing back the boundaries of acceptable behaviour therefore reinforcing those boundaries even further; he never gets to be the cowboy or the Indian, unless it’s on a plasma screen.

The recent disappearance of Madeleine McCann, desperately sad as it is, will only serve to make this situation worse.

Evidently 95% of children who contact the charity Childline, know who their abuser is. It is usually either a family member or someone in a position of trust, not someone they just met on the street.

I know a number of people who have been sexually abused as children; it goes like this, the vicar, the hospital porter, dad’s friend, uncle.

Any child is more likely to be run over in the street than to be abused in it. 29,000 children in the UK were involved in road accidents last year, 156 of which were fatal.

We should be ingraining the Green Cross Code into our children’s brains, not stranger danger! According to the NSPCC, on average one child is killed by their parent or carer every week in Britain – far more accidents happen in the home than in the park, the fields or the streets. That fact is going to present any parent with a cotton wool mentality with a problem, do we make the home out of bounds?

Parents need to start relaxing and trusting their children’s instincts and become more aware of their children’s most basic needs. Our children should be healthy and free to explore. Someone needs to get the message out that in order to learn the lessons needed for life, how to be responsible and independent, children need to learn to via the most basic first steps how to do this.

How to find your way home when you get lost; how to help your friend down who is stuck in the tree; how to look after the younger children and little siblings in the group; how to a make a picnic last all day; and how to trust.

But of course the most important lesson of all, the one you call on over and over again throughout your adult life - how to fight and make up.

In politics that can be known as conflict resolution. It’s a skill people in high places use with deft diplomacy, a skill which when deployed can mean the difference between life and death for many.

A skill based on instinct which very definitley begins as a process when we are children, in the playground, on the streets, or in the park.

Let our children play 

Paul said:
Responded: Thursday, 7 June 2007
It was our generation that made camps, climbed trees, messed about by the river. Why? because that was all there was to do, but it taught us well and enhanced our common sense.With the abundance of all things technology has created, who on earth wants to climb trees and play cowboys and indians nowadays- it's boring.Don't blame the parents entirely Nadine. After each working parent has toiled 150 days of the year just to satisfy Gordon, there are the house, cars, food and children to pay for.Not forgetting all that shiny new technology.They are usually both out working and they want the kids to be in the house, where it is safe.Kick a ball about in the street, or hang about in groups serves only to annoy the neighbours and threatens an ASBO.Sending the kids on supervised outings and paranoia sets in with health and safety issues. Unfortunately when it comes down to a choice between making a den or playng on the games console, the console will win every time.
Anonymous said:
Responded: Thursday, 7 June 2007
Danger...danger....I would sum it up like this..In my childhood I can remember one child from my school being killed..he ran out after a ball (in a side street) and was killed by a my son's childhood there were at least six children from his school who died,ranging from being killed after stepping off a bus and running across the road, to one being fataliy stabbed by another pupil. In my opinion there is more danger out there
Anonymous said:
Responded: Thursday, 7 June 2007
And has anyone bothered to ask the children why they are the unhappiest in Europe?
James said:
Responded: Thursday, 7 June 2007
Amazing isn't it. This country has so much wealth and diversity and yet our offspring are unhappy.Never before have the young had so much opportunity to travel,to explore.And yet they venture no further than the nearest shopping centre.Maybe we've lost the art of being good parents, relying on the schools, police and others to make the effort where we fail or have no time for.Perhaps we, as parents are the unhappiest too, trying keeping ahead of the Bills and the Joneses, and our pension plan.Perhaps you, as politicians,have made life too complex, with too many rules, regulations and nannying.One thing's for sure, we all must share the blame.
Mike H said:
Responded: Thursday, 7 June 2007
In one sense, most children in the UK have many more opportunities than any previous generation of children. However, by far the most important opportunity - that to be a child - is being denied on two fronts. From one side the innocence of childhood is quickly whisked away through exposure to the adult world via the media in all its forms; and on the other side they are overprotected because of the real dangers that can come from that same adult world. It's sad, but todays society no longer allows children to be children.
Dave said:
Responded: Friday, 8 June 2007
There is very little opportunity for to be a child for very long these days. Perhaps we were the only generation to have such a priviledge.Wasn't so long ago that children were forced through necessity to work down mines, in workhouses,up chimneys (those were the days, eh Mike H!!).Our generation were allowed the freedom to explore a much less populated environment.Sadly those freedoms have become much more curtailed.In order to compete with the child next door or the child abroad, childhood now ends abruptly, almost before it has begun. Young parents lives are now dedicated to living as near to the best schools,so their offspring can be force fed all that is on the education menu. A child's path along the road to greed,avarice and selfishness already mapped out for them. No wonder unhappiness abounds.
Dave said:
Responded: Friday, 8 June 2007
You're up early today or are you on automatic!!!
Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

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