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Britain is one of the worst places in the world to bring up children, says Blair advisor

17.05.07

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Despair: Children are exposed to violence and bullying

 

Sir Al-Aynsley-Green

Tony Blair's children's czar has condemned Britain as one of the worst places in the western world to bring up children.

 

Youngsters face bullying at school and violence at home and on the streets, said Sir Al Aynsley-Green.

 

He warned there is "a crisis at the heart of our society" and said youngsters are being "demonised" by the adult population.

 

The criticism by the Children's Commissioner follows a UN report which found Britain is the worst country to bring up children among the 21 richest nations.

 

His attack introduced a five-year plan to ensure children lead better lives.

 

However most of its points centre on the work of the Commission and critics have described it a waste of money.

 

Sir Al, a 64-year-old former paediatrician and head of NHS children's services, was appointed by Mr Blair two years ago to hear complaints from children and guard their rights.

 

Introducing his plan yesterday, he said: "Children exist in a state of great uncertainty.

 

"They feel unsafe in the streets, they often have domestic violence at home and bullying in school.

 

"I am driven almost to despair when I see the awfulness of so many children's lives. Many people are just not seeing the problem."

 

He condemned the use of Asbos and the 'mosquito' device which clears gatherings by emitting a high-pitched noise audible only to young ears.

 

And he added: "We are one of the most child and young person unfriendly countries in the developed world."

 

He also blamed "endless testing" in school for contributing to children's unhappiness.

 

Sir Al has renamed his office "Eleven Million led by the Children's Commissioner for England", referring to the number of children in the country.

 

He promises a "summer planning event" in which children will guide commission policies and a "takeover day" when they will run adult organisations.

 

But critics accuse the commission - which spent 93,000 on its name and logo - of doing nothing worthwhile in return for its budget of more than 3million a year.

 

Patricia Morgan, author of a series of studies of children and the family, said: "This is entirely a waste of money. We have seen the same sort of organisations set up in countries such as Sweden, where they throw lots of parties in aid of diversity but don't have much else to do.

 

"The central problem for children in Britain is family stability but Sir Al doesn't seem to have anything to say about that."

 

The Commissioner's five-year plan was launched amid deepening arguments among political leaders about how the state should help families.

 

Mr Blair yesterday launched a 'fasbo' initiative to help expectant mothers steer their children away from crime even before they are born.

 

Gordon Brown is coming under pressure from some Labour figures to do more to support two-parent families and marriage.

 

Sir Al's five-year-plan made no mention of family structure or its impact on children.

 

 

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