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Let children be the focus

Christmas and election year - let children be the focus

As the nation heads into Christmas, and political parties prepare for election year, Every Child Counts is urging all New Zealanders to let children be the focus.

"Christmas can be overwhelming for parents and children alike. In the midst of all the excitement, it is worth remembering that what children need most is time to play with, and feel appreciated by, parents. This time together builds warm relationships, reinforces attachments and supports children's learning.

"Christmas holidays can be a valuable opportunity to take time to relax with our children, to share experiences with them and build positive memories. These are the greatest gifts we can give them," said Deborah Morris-Travers today.

"And as political parties gear up for election year, they too should take the time to put the focus on children. All parties should be developing comprehensive policies that ensure better outcomes for children. These need to include a focus on the early years of a child's life, as well as health, education, protection from violence, support for families, and making sure that children's needs are central to all policy and planning processes.

"There is ample evidence of the need for children to be a priority focus for all political parties. If we don't get it right for them, we all suffer the consequences.

"Just last week the United Nations was considering progress towards creating a world fit for children and said there was a need for a greater focus on reducing violence, exploitation and abuse, as well as inequity and discrimination. The UN session called for investment in every child, in every community, everywhere - to give each child a healthy start in life, a good basic education, protection from exploitation, and a chance to develop to his or her full capacity.

"The 2008 election presents an opportunity for the parties to demonstrate a genuine commitment to children and to the nation's future, by clearly stating their policy plans in the interests of children," concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

Ends

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