Friday, September 30, 2011

Your Children Can't Vote. Are You Voting for Them?

Children can't vote.  And yet they are the ones who in many ways stand to gain or lose as a result of elections.

For me and many other parents I know, the issues are not that critical.  We strive to ensure that our children have good food, exercise and a good education.  We work on changing things from good to better to best.

But for some it's not nearly as simple.  Some are working to give their children just the basics and on improving their situation from bad to a bit better.

For some children it's worse and everytime I read a story of child neglect or abuse, I cringe.  These children are working only at having a life that's tolerable.  And in some cases, no one, not even their parents, is helping them.

The Canadian Paediatric Society publishes a document called "Are We Doing Enough: A Status Report on Canadian Public Policy and Child and Youth Health  It is a document that they refer voters to in any election as something to consider when voting.  They also ask for others to advocate on their behalf and on behalf of children.  I guess that's what I'm trying to do through this blog post.

The following are a series of statements made in the Report.  They focus readers on what Canadian and provincial governments are doing and where we are in terms of how we look after our children (and I use the term "our" collectively).
  • While parents and caregivers play a critical role in their children's healthy growth and development, governments must support their efforts with public policy that safeguards and enhances the health and safety of Canada's youngest residents.
  • It is estimated that 14%of children and youth under 20 years old - 1.1 million young Canadians - suffer from mental health conditions that affect their daily lives.  Children of low-income families are especially at risk...What's worse, three out of every four chuildren and youth who need specialized treatment services do not receive them.
  • Internationally, Canada ranks 12th out of 21 OECD countries on child well-being, well behind all the Scandinavian countries, where child poverty rates are less than 5%.
  • Health disparities among Canadian children and youth are primarily linked to differences in family socioeconomic status. 
  • Poor children are at greater risk of low birth weight...and poor physical and emotional health as they get older.  They tend to have more behavioural issues and achieve lower levels of education, further increasing their chances of lifelong poverty as adults.
  • Access to quality child care is not equally available to all families. A Montreal-based survey showed that children four to five years of age who were in low-quality centres were significantly more likely to come from lower socioeconomic status families.
  • The Canadian Paediatric Society believes that early learning and child care must be universal, affordable, accessible and of high-quality.
  • The CPS calls upon all levels of government to set targets and timetables, and to engage in widespread social and political collaboration to significantly reduce child and youth poverty.
I encourage you to read the entire document.