BY Ian Dunn | September 1 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


We need a society that supports parents and celebrates children

Nearly a quarter of a million children in Scotland live in poverty. It’s not the deprivation you see in some parts of the world, but it is real.

Nearly a quarter of a million children in Scotland live in poverty. It’s not the deprivation you see in some parts of the world, but it is real. By age of five the vocabulary of children from wealthy families is 13 months ahead of those from poor ­families. Three year olds in households with incomes below £10,000 are two and a half times more likely to suffer chronic illness than children in households with incomes above £52,000. And children living in low-income households are nearly three times as likely to suffer mental health problems than their more affluent peers later in life.

The outcomes for children born into poorer families are ­constrained, restricted and repressed while they are still in the womb.

But the fact that there are great patches of poverty in Scotland should not disguise the huge wealth there is here. Walk around the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh and look in the windows of ­exclusive shops, expensive restaurants. There’s no shortage of money here, but there’s a shortage of will to help those who need it.

So Bishop William Nolan’s intervention this week, calling on a £5 increase to child benefit, is welcome. Families, especially large families, need all the help they can get.

That £5 adds up, and can be the difference between a parent lying awake in bed at night, stressed over being unable to pay a bill, and sleeping soundly.

But Scotland needs more. We need to rethink the way our society is geared towards the old, and money and work are seen the greatest possible goods.

The Scottish birth rate is the lowest in the UK—without ­immigration our population would be dropping dramatically. We need a society that supports parents and that encourages them to have kids. A society that sees children as something to be celebrated, not tolerated.

Decades of indulgent capitalism and selfish liberalism have left us with a country pointed at demographic destruction. If we are to turn it around, it starts with valuing children.


Pic: Guillaume de Germain

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