Prejudice is not innate, you are not born to discriminate or be unkind. Hate is something learnt, so why are we not teaching kindness and empathy at an early age to break the cycle? We cannot change ingrained ideologies of adults and therefore it is so important for schools to reach our children, to teach them compassion and understanding to help them grow into the generation we should have been.
As a parent the world is an incredibly scary place. You want to wrap your child up in cotton wool to shelter them from the world. Bullying, violence, discrimination, poverty, grooming. The list goes on and it only gets worse. As much as we would love to keep our children at home where we can protect them, they need to go out and learn, explore, experience the world and be able to make positive changes. School is one place where children spend their most formative years and yet it is such a daunting place for so many.
School is somewhere that most children dread. They wake up in the morning with a lump in their throat and a weight in their tummy because they are scared about what the day will hold. Will they have friends to spend their breaks with, will they have to hide in the bathroom to eat their lunch, will the teacher pick on them in front of the class because they are struggling to pay attention, who is going to try hit them today for being “too quiet”? These are just a few snapshots of the anxieties children face every day. So why are we letting it continue? Why do we force our children into such a toxic environment for so many years to then spit them out of the education system years later as broken young adults with serious mental health issues who then are let down by our “adult” world?
“Among children of primary school age (5 to 10-year olds), 14.4% had a probable mental disorder in 2020, an increase from 9.4% in 2017. Among secondary school aged children (11 to 16-year olds), 17.6% were identified with a probable mental disorder in 2020, an increase from 12.6% in 2017 according to the ONS and NHS report of 2020.”
This shows even with the few reforms we have in place, we are still not doing enough to support our children. They are left feeling isolated, outcast and unable to speak out.
“One in ten children and young people aged 11 to 22 years said that they often or always felt lonely”
This number is unacceptable. Our children need support and a community, to help them know they are not alone in this, and we are here to listen and support them.
This pandemic has put immense pressure on our children as “More than one in five (21.7%) 17 to 22 year olds with a probable mental disorder reported that they had decided not to seek help for a mental health concern due to the pandemic and a further 22.9% reported that they had decided not to seek help for both a mental and physical health concern”. Our health, both physical and mental are the most integral parts of our lives in order to survive. We cannot neglect ourselves or our children any longer.
We propose an immense push for more mental health initiatives to be included within the school syllabus. Mental health “check-ins” daily to monitor each other, guidance to help support and spot “mental health burnouts” and show the importance of selfcare and self-love for these vulnerable young children. To help encourage kindness and to celebrate difference and diversity. We need to show our children that their differences are beautiful, that they are not alone in their struggles and that we all deserve to be loved and to succeed, and that we are willing to set the time and resources aside to ensure they do.
We cannot do this alone. We all need to advocate for our children especially the vulnerable. We as adults need to take responsibility for the damage we have caused and not let the toxic mentality of our previous generations fail our children. To see the change, we need to be the change.