Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Are your children 'deprived'?

We all know that there is terrible injustice and poverty in the world, and indeed within our own society.

So, I was actually quite disturbed to read the new report commissioned by The Children's Society about children's perception of their own happiness.

Whilst many of the write-ups I've read this morning try to point out that actually, some of the measures that children have indicated impacting on their well-being are focused on family togetherness and days out, there is still an alarming weight placed on material possessions.

The University of York surveyed 5,500 boys and girls for the Children Society research, and concluded that children who lack more than 5 out of the 10 items on their new 'deprivation index' are over 5 times more likely to suffer low levels of well-being than children who have all 10 indicators.

So, what are these 'items of deprivation'?

1. Some pocket money each week to spend on yourself
2. Some money that you can save each month, either in a bank or at home
3. A pair of designer or brand name trainers (like Nike or Vans)
4. An iPod or other personal music player
5. Cable or satellite TV at home
6. A garden at home, or somewhere nearby like a park where you can safely spend time with your friends
7. A family car for transport when you need it
8. The right kind of clothes to fit in with other people your age
9. At least one family holiday away from home each year
10. Family trips or days out at least once a month

Will my child really feel deprived without the latest pair of sneakers or an ipod?

What message does this report send out to parents?  Parents who are already placed under pressure and feel guilt laid on from every direction.  Parents who are trying to make ends meet in these austere times.

Will it make us try to instill other values in our children.  To show that they are safe; loved and wanted in ways other than material possessions you can buy?  Or will it make us rush out to JD Sports?

What do you think?

You can read the full report here:

Missing out: a child centred analysis of material deprivation and subjective well-being


  1. sorry, my kids will have to be deprived then! they are not getting trendy trainers/clothes or ipods, sometimes they will not get family holidays, or pocket money (at least till i can make them earn it!).
    I'm an evil mum who won't let the kids have tv's in their bedrooms and i make them wear handy down or home made clothes!
    What a silly list - deprived is having no food, no where safe to live and no love!

  2. Sorry, but WTF??? None of these except point 6 is NEEDED for a happy childhood. Not having pocket money does not mean your lacking in anything. Most parents I know simply buy their child what they need and occasionally what they want. Trainers? Ipod? Seriously??? Im sure most kids would be happier spending quality time with their parents, A walk and fun in the park/woods/beach etc. There is alot to be said for some good old fashioned fun, and none of that above seems to fit in. Not in my house anyway.

  3. Thanks for commenting.

    I have to say I totally agree. 'Deprivation' is an emotive word I'll admit.

    I support most of the work The Children's Society do - I used to volunteer for them, but I really think this report sends out totally the wrong messages and their focus would be better spent elsewhere.

    And Mum, I'm sorry for saying I was a deprived child because you wouldn't buy us a Soda Stream.

  4. What a joke lol but then it doesn't surprise me! my daughter is obviously deprived then as she doesn't own expensive brand name clothes or the latest ipod or mobile phone and well at 8 years of age what an awful parent i am not to get her all those things at her age :P
    Like i say it doesn't surprise me kids seem to think its all about possesions these days not about being kept fed clean and most importantly being loved! most of katie's friends have ipods ipads mobile phones and wear the latest brand trainers but i refuse to go down that road!

  5. It's really shocking that many of the things on this list didn't even exist when I was a kid.

  6. What age are these children though? My boys couldn't care less about any of that stuff - they're 3 and 6.

    I do remember wanting Nikes when I was about 13/14 - I got some giant puffy white things called 'Nicks'! I know I whined occasionally about the fact we didn't have a video or a sodastream, never had a telly in my room and wasn't getting £20 or whatever per GCSE, but I knew I wasn't deprived really, and I will be just as sensible as my parents were (I hope). That said, when I was a kid I would have seethed with jealousy to see the portable DVD player the boys have in the car for that 5 hour drive to Granny's!

  7. Ha - hadn't seen you soda-stream comment while I was writing this! Do you remember the Gremlin green one? My best friend had one - AND we got to eat tinned meatballs and chips at her house. Happy Days...

  8. The most ridiculous survey results I have EVER seen and they spent good money on commissioning this report ?

    It's an insult to any hard working family trying to ensure their children are brought up with good values.

    I am actually appalled and can't think of anything constructive to say.

  9. Hi DresdenFae - ha! I know what you mean. My daughter howled with laughter the other day when she say a phone box and I told her what it was for! She couldn't fathom that computers, mobiles and 3 million TV channels didn't exist when I was little!

    Lakota - The kids asked were aged 8 - 15. Really, at the age of 15 wouldn't you hope for a better empathy and understanding of the world at large? :0(

  10. Hi Karen, thanks for commenting.

    I know exactly what you mean. When I read it I really wasn't sure what I felt...sadness the kids measure their WELL BEING in these terms, anger that we allow them to... Says a lot for our materialistic society doesn't it.

  11. What a daft list.

    My children get pocket money (though they do small chores for it), we have a garden, a car and we have skytv . Beyond that I guess they are deprived if I believe this list! Generally they have happy and know they are loved.

    When I was growing up, we didn't have a video player till I was 14, no car till I was over 16 (though we had access to grandparents car), but we did have a soda stream!

  12. Samantha - show off!! Thanks for your comment. x

    At the risk of sounding like the typical grumpy old fart "in my day we were lucky if we had a lump of coal to play with..." it really does strike me as incredible that these are the measures children choose to show their emotional well-being :0(

  13. No, not really. Cos children that age are usually intrinsically selfish. They KNOW that others are worse off and they don't NEED these things, but that doesn't stop the want. Who knows quite how the question was phrased when they were asked it? Of course they have the cognitive ability to see that they're not deprived at all in comparison with other nations, but realistically, kids compare with their peers. Mine will just have to be deprived for a while longer, but if they ask for an ipod at 11, and I can afford it - I would think it's a reasonable present. I had a midi hi-fi at about that age. It's all relative. That's not to say we'll be going to Disneyland or having multiple sky channels any time soon.

  14. I'm not a Mum so possibly my view isn't valid but I personally think that list is total crap. Of course kids want what they want, they're an advertiser's dream - think of all the buzz around the 'must have' toys at Christmas. But to say that if a child has to take the bus or walk instead of being constantly driven around and doesn't have an iPod or expensive trainers they are deprived is a bit nutty to me!!

    The family days out I'm totally there with though - even if it's just going out for a bike ride and a picnic or visiting relatives, having/going to a barbecue (or this month a bonfire!) etc - it's important to have the odd treat as a family I think.

    Jem xXx

  15. Actually, just realised that my lot do have most of the things on that list. But... they're older (15,13,11 and 9). The two big ones own ipods, but they saved up with their own money to get them. They do get pocket money, the oldest doesn't care about designer labels but the 13yo does. So she buys those things with her own money. She recently earned money from her little sisters by selling them her hand me downs:-) But generally speaking they didn't always get new clothes when younger - the oldest getting hand me downs from cousins. They are hugely privileged children, and I think they are aware of it. I hope so anyway.

    That list is a nonsense. Children need love first and foremost, then to have a roof over their heads and enough food to eat and clothes to wear. The rest is immaterial.

  16. This is ridiculous, my 8 yr old son doesn't care about clothing labels, for him it's all about the character on them! I had sky TV before he was born, but if I ddn't have it he wouldn't have missed it! Days out and a safe place to play outside are the only essential things on that list, when I was a kid we were out all day every day and TV was a Saturday night thing and maybe Saturday mornings too occasionally. The world has gone mad!

  17. Thank you all for your comments.

    I was really curious to know what people felt about this, and it seems I'm not alone.

    LOL Jane at your daughter selling her hand-me-downs to her younger siblings - that's cute - very cute!

  18. My 12 year old has most of the things on the list. I'm charity shop mad, my clothes, home, 4 and 3 year old sons are kitted out in other peoples' junk. My 12 year old son though, he hangs around with friends from nouveau riche backgrounds and their whole identity revolves around brands/possessions. I don't have the strength to deny him these things because I remember the embarrassment I felt at not having a family car, cool trainers and a tv. The tv was only recently purchased though, I don't like tv's in the bedroom at all.
    As much as I'd like to have him reading books and wearing cast-offs like he did before high school, I have to accept this is his environment, this is what makes him feel 'valid'. Am I doing harm? Maybe a no-win situation.

  19. I'm appalled by this list. The only crucial thing on that list in #6. All that this will do is increase the burden of guilt on parents to give their children material things, possibly risking their emotional wellbeing to do so. A child is deprived if it is not loved, or does not feel safe, is hungry, homeless or cold. The lack of an iPod will not cause actual damage to any child. I think The Children's Society have been incredibly irresponsible with this one.

  20. I found this fascinating but it also touched a raw nerve for me. I read it out to OH who agreed with most of the comments, that its disgusting that kids think/feel that etc but I have to say I can totally get where this is coming from to a point. I prob grew up with the equivalent of 2 of those items, one being the garden! My parents didn't have a car until I was about 16. My brother and I received mainly second hand ' big' presents, bikes etc all the while watching our close cousins receive everything new. We stood by while they received new designer clothes regularly in front of us (god knows how sh*t my parents must have felt) anyway my point is I remember feeling acutely sad and down about this for most of my childhood as situation s arose. Friends at school didn't help either. I know I shall really struggle with my children and whether or not they should have these things as I don't want them to be spoilt but remember so painfully these feelings of wanting stuff so bad and not understanding or reasoning. I can see where this is coming from and perhaps could have been written in a more sensitive manner and could have come across better. Incidently my OH had equivalent of most of these things and couldn't understand my views really.

  21. Hi Mamabear,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I too struggled with my feelings over this. After all, it's the children THEMSELVES who are saying this.

    That makes me sad - that our society is this way. But I also can see as a teenage kid, seeing others have things that you don't, would be depressing. We are still, it seems, a nation of 'haves' and 'have nots'.

    I'm just a little surprised that the Children's Society are going to use this research to lobby government. Whilst it's clearly important that EVERY child feels happiness, there are some much more fundamental basic human rights that our children need and are still not getting, even here in this 'great nation'. x

  22. I am shocked and appalled! How materialistic is the majority of that list? I can only understand a few of these things being on there (age dependant, that is); some pocket money each week to spend on yourself,a garden at home, or somewhere nearby like a park where you can safely spend time with your friends, family trips or days out at least once a month (but these needn't cost anything). The rest are ridiculous!