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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Children - a liability or an asset?

Parents are only too familiar with the costs of raising a child.   Few would ever consider giving up the joy that child-raising brings.

While attributed to many people including an old African saying and  a president's wife:  "It takes a whole community to raise a child."   So why in Canada do we view children as a liability?

Communities which are child friendly;  are preparing for their future, developing a legacy, and economically more successful.   It is rare that I run into a community that does not see economic vitality and prosperity as a civic goal.  However, these same communities seem to be challenged to incorporate child-friendliness into their short and long term planning.  

Planning for healthier communities makes long term economic sense.  The trade-off is that sometimes short term cash benefits conflict with sustainable planning.   Yet, if you review the literature on Healthy Communities, you will find children rarely considered.  When they are, they are treated as a vulnerable population - in essence a community liability.   Sure, planning will include schools and a few parks and recreational areas - but being child-friendly means so much more.   And, being child-friendly means community planning is investing in both economic vitality and the economy. 

When you have a double win and are still faced with obstacles, start asking why?   Development in communities is driven by developers who measure success by the bottom line.   Investing in frivolous components that add value over time is perceived as cutting into the bottom line - so children are treated as a liability.

Canada scores poorly on international comparisons of our social approach to children.  Our neighbours to the south are similarly ranked.  The systemic exclusion of children and children's issues from social decision making deters progress on investing in our own future. 

Take any issue in today's paper that decision makers are grappling with, and ask yourself the question - how would this decision change if each child were each given a vote. 

1 comment:

  1. I learn from my son every day...here is a great example of the value of children: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-bjOJzB7LY

    signed: NurseAneta