Scottish children speak out on family rules and discipline in the home

ParliamentfilmToday a group of school children from Glasgow, Clackmannanshire and East Lothian gathered at Children’s 1st’s office in Edinburgh to present films they had made about family rules, discipline and punishment in the home. The films, supported by a grant from the Big Lottery Awards for All fund , were developed by the Children’s Parliament in partnership with Children 1st. The children involved hope that they will initiate conversations within families about home life.

A growing body of evidence confirms the vital importance of nurture and positive relationships on children’s development, particularly in the early years. The Pushing the Boundaries project examines the importance of home life, parental support and guidance in this context and lets the children explore the positive and negative aspects of family rules, discipline and punishment.

Children aged nine to 12 worked with professional artists to create three short animated films that share their views on these themes and what they need to flourish in life. This afternoon they presented the films to a group of key professionals and organisations including representatives from the Scottish Government, local authorities and health boards and charities such as Barnardo’s Scotland and Parenting Across Scotland.

“No one listens”

One of the films highlighted children’s concerns about being listened to. Speaking at the event Mary Glasgow, Director of Children and Family Services and External Affairs at Children 1st said that she was delighted that the films were giving a voice to children and young people:

“These films allow children and young people to speak out about the impact that family life has on them. The children have harnessed their creativity—and in some cases their talent for rapping—to develop strong messages about love, support, attachment, relationships and their need to be listened to in order to flourish.

“Parents and carers are the key sources of support and guidance for children, but we must acknowledge that many families face challenges that impact upon relationships , the home environment and the whole family. I hope that these films will encourage families to discuss home life and relationships, including how they feel about family rules and boundaries.”

“Hitting me makes me feel bad in my heart.”

The films also highlighted concerns that the children had about physical punishment, reinforcing the call of key organisations such as the Scottish Police Federation, Social Work Scotland and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health for the Scottish Government to review the legislation in this area. The children’s views echo the findings of the 2006/7 Growing Up In Scotland research which found that nearly 80-90 percent of Scottish parents said physical punishment was ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ useful.

The films are available on the Children’s Parliament’s website.