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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 May 19; 334(7602): 1027.
PMCID: PMC1871783

Listen to children when deciding policy, says commissioner

A new five point plan has been launched by England's children's commissioner to improve the lives of the country's 11 million children and young people and to ensure that their views are heard in the development of policies and services that affect them.

The strategy, which itself was developed in partnership with children and young people, identifies six areas where children's rights, health, and happiness can be improved. These are youth justice and antisocial behaviour; asylum and human trafficking; a fair life; mental health; education; and leisure and safety.

In his introduction to the new plan the commissioner, Albert Aynsley-Green, wrote, “There should be no doubt about inadequacy of children's services from the findings of the Kennedy Inquiry in 2001 and by the Laming Inquiry two years later into the murder of a little girl called Victoria Climbié. But has anyone learned from these Inquiries or children's experiences? I think not—because vulnerable children are still dying.”

The commissioner's office has been renamed “11 million,” after a discussion with more than 3000 children and young people.

As part of the strategy a major project, called “Happy and Healthy,” will explore young people's view on their health and happiness and what they can do to influence it. Young people will also be invited to take part in a “big discussion day” held every August at which participants will agree priorities for the year and decide how 50% of the commissioner's project budget will be spent.

Decision makers in government, business, charities, schools, and the media are also being asked to allow children to take over their organisations for one day as part of the “11 million takeover day,” as a way to encourage young people to get involved in influencing the work of those organisations.

“It is high time that we all woke up to the fact that bringing up children must be everybody's business—parents, families, schools, communities, and faiths as well as government. Our children are our most important asset, and this new strategy outlines how I will work to ensure that together we can improve children's lives, rights, health and happiness,” said Professor Aynsley-Green.


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