All cultures, societies, and nations are shaped by the way we raise children, what we teach them about the world becomes the world they create as adults. A range of scientific disciplines have overwhelming concluded that this is true starting from the inside biologically, emotionally, and neurologically, then manifesting outward as behavior and ultimately becoming social policy.
Author and researcher Robin Grille is perhaps one of the most prominent voices curating and bringing attention to the mounting evidence regarding the importance of child-rearing. Together with Anne Manne, and Kali Wendorf they have written the Children’s Wellbeing Manifesto as a guide to bring public awareness and shape policy that allows our youth to flourish that we may have a healthy and vibrant future for all.
Science unlocking keys to the developing brain
Though the topic of how to raise children is quite sensitive and personal, this information is coming from scientific research and observation. As we begin to understand what is actually happening in a developing brain, it is much easier to let go of culturally held beliefs in light of neurological and biological facts. Robin’s popular TEDx Talk, Peace Code in the Human Brain inspired the article Violence is a Preventable Brain Disorder which has been widely shared and discussed online.
Can politics prioritize the wellbeing of children?
When we think of societal dysfunctions we think of politicians, corruption, etc. but we rarely look deep enough to consider the conditions which created the people who are bringing so much dysfunction into our world. By doing this we are able to bring compassion into the equation, and begin to address these issues at the root, where they develop and start working to prevent them in future generations. It has been said that a concerted focus on children for one generation could change history forever and I believe it.
The following propositions are based on the best initiatives that have been tried and tested in numerous countries, and/or withstood rigorous tests of cost-benefit analysis. Such investments in the wellbeing of children, psychologically as well as physically, have been convincingly shown to yield economic as well as social rewards far exceeding the investment” – from the preamble of Children’s Wellbeing Manifesto
How would our world look if the priority of our politicians and policies was to raise children in safe, loving, supportive environments? What if there was a compassionate way to talk about, bring to light, and heal child neglect, as well as violence and the sexual abuse of children? If we, as an emergent global community, decided that this was important we could resolve issues that have haunted us across cultures for generations. This would dramatically shift the way we interacted with and treated our environment as well.
The Manifesto for Children
In a world increasingly driven by imperatives of profit and market forces, we hold that parental and family love matters most, it is at the very centre of human and social wellbeing; and thus we propose the following ways to support parents in the most important job in the world.
The Wellbeing Manifesto is a thought-provoking, articulate expression of how we might do this together as a people to make a better world for all of us by focusing on the needs of children. Shaping Youth is a great organization started by Amy Jussel to bring more awareness to the ways that media targets and influences youth through advertising. If we are to see this initiative be successful, it will need to be spread through media, and social networks until enough public pressure can be exerted to create policy changes at the top. This is up to each of you who are inspired by this work to spread the word!
The manifesto addresses the following 15 points:
- Establishment of new community ‘hubs’ for parent support called: ‘Parent and Child Support Centres’ in every municipality.
- Increased support for early-intervention initiatives, particularly for disadvantaged populations.
- Encourage hospitals to increase their focus on the psychological needs of mothers and infants surrounding labour.
- Provide support for mothers to aim towards full-term breastfeeding (as recommended by the World Health Organization and UNICEF).
- Extend Medicare health care cover
- Encourage and expand support for non-profit, community based or co-operative childcare.
- Improve the quality of existing childcare.
- Support Children’s Right to Play
- Introduce maternity and paternity leave with pay.
- Support fathers’ involvement in children’s lives.
- Workplace Reform: encourage mother/father-friendly workplaces
- Free re-training and remission of education expenses for all primary caregivers on re-entry to workplace.
- Universal free, non-compulsory Preschool for 3 and 4 year olds.
- Legislate against all corporal punishment of children.
- Prohibit television, print and in-school advertising and marketing that targets children under 12.
Please take a moment and read the entire Wellbeing Manifesto, and consider ways to raise awareness in your circles. Each of us started as a little seed, we can heal our own childhood traumas through engaging youth and helping them thrive. No parents are perfect, but together we can create a global community of support for mothers, fathers, and families so that they are empowered to raise healthy, loving, creative children. This might be the single most important thing we can do to make a better world, let’s not allow it to be overlooked!