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Children call for action to improve their lives

Children call for action to improve their lives

10 February 2012

Children and young people ringing the child helpline 0800 What’s Up* have called for New Zealanders to do more to support children, young people and families. They strongly support the government developing a Children’s Action Plan that would help make sure children are healthy, safe, loved and cared for, and do well at school. The comments from the children and young people provide a picture of what it feels like to be a child in New Zealand; offer some simple clear pleas to parents about what children need and suggest some ideas for government to consider.

Barnardos provided an opportunity for children to have their say on the Green Paper on Vulnerable Children when they rang 0800 What’s Up. Children were asked three questions and then provided the opportunity to leave a message or speak with a counselor to share their ideas.

The submissions were presented to Minister for Social Development, Hon Paula Bennett, in Auckland today and will contribute to government thinking and preparation of a White Paper.

“The response from the children shows strong support for all New Zealanders playing their part to improve life for children. 71 percent of callers said more had to be done. 61 percent of callers said the most important support for families came from their own family or community rather than the government. This highlights the need for action for children at every level of society,” said Mike Munnelly, Barnardos General Manager of Child and Family Services.

“In response to a question about whether or not the government should have a Children’s Action Plan, 67 percent of children agreed.”

The responses were as follows:

1. Do you think New Zealand needs to do more to support children, young people and families?

No438 (22%)
Not sure134 (7%)

2. Where do families get their best and most important support from?

From their own family and community1093(61%)
From the government364 (20%)
Not sure333 (19%)

3. Do you think the Government should have a Children’s Action Plan that helps make sure children are healthy; safe; loved and cared for; and do well at school?

Yes1117 (67%)
No444 (27%)
Not sure98 (6%)

Some of the ideas most frequently cited by children included:

• Parents not yelling, hitting or bashing children
• Hospitals doing more to stop child abuse
• Adults not drinking or smoking cannabis in front of their children
• Parents having the time to play, communicate and interact with their children
• Government providing money to people who can’t afford healthy food
• Children receiving school fruit, lunches and milk
• Having more activities for families in communities.

A sample of quotes from the children is below.


* 0800 What’s Up (0800 942 8787) is a vital service for children and young people providing free, confidential, professional telephone counselling for five to 18 year olds. The helpline is available from 12 noon to 12 midnight 365 days per year, and receives up to 500,000 calls from children each year.

Consultation on the Green Paper
A sample of the quotes from children recorded on 0800 What’s Up

“I think parents should be nicer to their kids and not bash us”

“Adults should love their children more.”

“I think that adults can help by not smacking us.”

“I think adults should be more interactive with kids, and there should be more community activities to get the whole family involved, and there should be activities at school that involve the whole family, and lots of interaction.”

“I think that adults should encourage their children more, so that their children develop, then they learn, so when they grow up they become qualified, and then become the government themselves.”

“Adults should stop drinking.”

‘ No child left behind”

“My idea for helping young children out is that in every single town or suburb there should be a place or somewhere where kids can go if they are ever in need of help. Maybe there could be counsellors and stuff like that. Anyway, laters.”

“I think the government should do more to help children to have better lives, because we are the next generation, and if we don’t look after the next generation then we won’t have any people.”

“ I think that there should be a club that the government opens up that has programmes like art , reading and immersion programmes and stuff that helps kids learn, and this will make children learn better , like after school and all day in the holidays

“We should make a future plan for our children, when they are born the parents should put money away for future education and the government should help fund that.”

“Kids should get school lunches or school fruit.”

“I think that the government should honestly pay more attention to children, because the children are the future of NZ basically, and if the children of NZ are not getting treated as they should, obviously in the future then they won’t be how you want them. If we don’t have a plan of action for them when they are young they will just grow up and not be the people you want them to be. Should be better to have a plan of action for when they grow up, not for when they get older, cause they will be thinking why didn’t I know this when I was younger? Drinking should be made illegal, cannabis should be illegal.”

“My message is that the government should put the prices down on things like food and living supplies, and fruit and vegetables so that we can all live healthier lives, and put the costs down of school fees so that we can all have a good education not just the rich.”


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