Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Positive indicators of child well-being, a must

The decisions made today affect children’s futures, their chances of ‘well becoming’ and their ongoing 'well-being'. Traditionally so called ‘negative’ indicators, which reveal deficiencies in health, behavioural and educational achievements, have been applied to measuring the state of children throughout the world. As noted by Asher Ben-Arieh (2000), with the coining of the term ‘well-being’ and a transition from assessing children’s mere survival (child immunisation, child mortality) more attention was paid to the value of positive indicators. Ben Arieh argues that, the absence of problems or failures does not necessarily indicate proper growth and success. Measuring positive outcomes not only helps to identify what works and where to invest further. Additionally in the absence of subjective measures it limits assumptions of what constitutes well-being across different contexts and when used in conjunction with negative indicators, creates a better picture, of how to ensure children’s well-becoming. The debate of well-being vs ‘well becoming’ is an interesting one. A child’s present state of well-being, in comparison to what may become of it in the future, are both important factors to measure, and they are highly interdependent. Well-being is not assured without some degree of future security and protection of an individual’s interests, and well-becoming is nothing without a solid foundation beneath it. The layered effect of such analysis inclusive of the intricacies of positive and negative measurements are important for assuring the attainment of the ultimate goals of ensuring children are healthy and happy and that they develop into productive citizens of society. The climate change and Rio+20 discussions, resonate with this approach of looking at children’s well-being and development, the idea that today’s decisions affect children’s future well-being. Hannah Chadwick Wikichild Coordinator

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