Action for Children celebrates its 150th birthday with launch of Choose Childhood campaign and report

Since Action for Children was established 150 years ago, huge progress has been made to improve the lives of children. But there are worrying signs that some of this progress is being reversed.

In recent years, there has been an increase in children identified as at risk of harm, growing mental health needs among children and young people, and child poverty has increased. Yet at the same time, significant reductions in local authority budgets in England have led to cuts to vital early support services that help children and families before problems become more serious.


  • Landmark survey reveals three generations of families across the North East fear childhoods are getting worse
  • Vast numbers of children worry about ‘adult issues’ like Brexit and poverty, whilst bullying – online and offline - emerged as the top obstacle to a good childhood
  • In its 150th year of helping children, Action for Children warns of an emerging childhood crisis, with young people facing unparalleled social pressures at the same time as a drastic reduction in children’s services
  • The charity is calling on the Government to establish a National Childhood Strategy that puts children first and keeps them safe from harm 

Action for Children is warning of a crisis emerging in modern childhoods, as a major survey today reveals children, parents and grandparents in the North East – and across the country - fear childhoods are getting worse

As young people face unparalleled social pressures and a collapse in investment from the government in children’s services, Action for Children with YouGov explored the biggest issues affecting childhood today through comprehensive research across three UK generations.

The research, involving discussion groups and a survey of children and adults, showed a large proportion of grandparents (76%), parents (52%) and children (30%) in the North East say childhoods today are getting worse.

All three generations in the region agreed bullying is the biggest problem preventing a good childhood, as children deal with it online, as well as inside and outside school. However, while 60% of children highlighted the second biggest barrier as too much pressure from school, parents (51%) and grandparents (62%) were more concerned about too much time spent on electronic devices and social media.

And with politics in turmoil, the vast majority of children in the North East – some as young as 11 – say they are worrying about ‘adult issues’. These included Brexit (29%), while over half (59%) of all children surveyed are worried about terrorism, closely followed by fears over poverty and homelessness (52%).

With the UK’s most vulnerable youngsters hit hardest by the growing childhood crisis, Action for Children is launching a new campaign today called ‘Choose Childhood’ as it marks its 150th year.

John Egan, national director at Action for Children said: “What we want is for every child and young person in the North East and across the country to have a safe and happy childhood with the foundations they need to thrive. We are sleepwalking into a crisis in childhood and, far from being carefree, our children are buckling under the weight of unprecedented social pressures, global turmoil and a void in government policy which should keep them well and safe.

“Our research shows children worry about poverty, homelessness and terrorism and the vulnerable children we work with every day are facing traumas like domestic abuse or neglect, going hungry or struggling with their mental health, without the support they desperately need.

“For the past decade, the government has been asleep on the job when it comes to investing in our children. The next Prime Minister must wake up to this growing crisis and put our children first. We want to see the establishment of a National Childhood Strategy, so departments right across government can get a grip on these issues, backed with funding to deliver urgently needed services to keep children safe from harm.”