OK, so we\’re a nation of monsters, forcing children up chimneys and thrashing them when they come down again. At least, that\’s what you might suppose from a new report:
Life for many children in Britain is getting worse as the gap between rich and poor widens, a damning report concludes on Monday.
The study by the UK Children\’s Commissioners warns that "unacceptable" numbers of youngsters are languishing in poverty and being "discriminated" against by a harsh justice system.
When you look a little more closely at the actual allegations it doesn\’t look quite so bad:
The study makes 110 recommendations for ministers and concludes: "In the UK today, the gap between rich and poor is increasing, along with associated disparities in the well-being of children and respect for their rights."
Ah, we\’re taliing about an increase in inequality, of relative poverty, not absolute poverty. At least so far no one is actually saying that the poor are getting poorer….just that they\’re not getting richer as fast as those already rich. Of course, in a country with rising inequality, as we have, of course this is an obvious no-brainer. Rising inequality means that the poor are not getting rich as fast as the rich.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly pledged to halve the number of children living below the poverty line by 2010, but millions are still classed as poor and the numbers are likely to increase again on Tuesday.
If we\’re going to define poverty in relative terms then this is also not much of a surprise in a time of rising inequality.
The report says child poverty is "a major issue" across all parts of the UK and adds: "The Government\’s approach to ending child poverty has made little impact on the levels of inequality in this country, in particular, income, health and educational inequality."
It claims health inequalities are in some areas widening, with poor people\’s health failing to improve at the same rate as that of the rich.
Again, they\’re not saying that the health of the poor is deteririating….just that it isn\’t getting better as fast as some other sectors of society.
Mental health for youths in Britain has also deteriorated over the past 30 years, it is claimed.
That actually is a decline in absolute standards (if true of course) but then I can\’t say that I\’m all that surprised either. The NHS provision of mental health services is appalling and there are people within the system I trust (John Crippen for example) who say that it is indeed getting worse.
The report states that there are now one million obese under-16s in Britain, and that most are from poor families which cannot afford healthier food…
That\’s a very silly statement given that healthy food is in fact cheaper than the manufactured and processed crap.
The commissioners say they are "disappointed" that the Government has not banned parents from smacking their children and warns that this means they have less protection from assault than adults.
It takes a certain worldview to equate mild chatisement from parents with assault there, now doesn\’t it?
But at least from this report on the report what we\’ve got is a series of whines about how inequality is increasing: we\’ve got almost no references to whether things are getting better in absolute terms at all. Are more children going unshod, unclothed, unfed? Or are those all getting better in real terms, while all that\’s left for people to mutter about is that others are getting better faster?