Australians have changed the way they think about children, from viewing them as “lazy” and “selfish” to appreciating them as “valued” and “honest” members of society.
That’s the verdict from a recent survey, which has prompted experts to recommend changes to amplify children’s voices and better support and empower them in the community.
The survey – commissioned by the Valuing Children Initiative – found adults’ perspectives of children have shifted dramatically since 2016, when many regarded younger generations as spoilt (57 per cent), selfish and lazy (45 per cent).
Many still consider children as fortunate and vulnerable, but some have done away with their negative views, instead describing kids as valued (45 per cent), caring (37 per cent), honest (35 per cent) and trustworthy (24 per cent).
The words “tech savvy” also come to mind for more than half of adults when they think about children.
Three-quarters of adults agree children’s best interests should be taken into account in all decision making, and 57 per cent believe the Australian government gives too little consideration to children when making policy decisions.
Valuing Children Initiative development executive Sarah Quinton welcomed the positive shift in attitudes.
“But we still have a long way to go, particularly around online safety and mental health issues for our children and young people,” Ms Quinton said.
“When it comes to issues like climate change, child protection, social media and universal access to quality education, children have a lot to say – it’s time for us to listen.”
The report authors recommended mechanisms like child and youth impact assessment tools be used to amplify children’s voices, and better programs for parents to improve children’s development.
They also recommended increasing youth mental health services and advocacy, and said schools should roll out programs to give kids skills to address modern challenges like online safety.
It identified mental health issues as the biggest problem kids had to contend with.
The survey of more than 1000 adults in Australia for the Valuing Children Initiative was conducted by The University of Western Australia along with Edith Cowan University and Curtin University.
(Australian Associated Press)