Health promotion: improving children's lives or demonising parents?
Saturday 1 November, 5.15pm until 6.15pm, Seminar Space

We are told the welfare of children is paramount, and ‘every child matters’. The government is investing heavily to ensure parents have access to the right health information to help them make informed choices, from preconception to adulthood. High profile health campaigns focus on smoking, safety, diet, sleep, mental health, child abuse and more. Children have also become direct targets for health promotion, and are encouraged to drum home the message to their parents.

Why have children and parents become the focus of such unprecedented attention, and does it actually work? Some argue these campaigns empower parents by equipping them with information and guidance; others feel they encourage dependence on professionals undermining parents’ confidence in making their own decisions. Does health promotion demonise parents who don’t make the ‘right’ lifestyle choices? Do some parents go along with these campaigns because they fear singling out their children for unwelcome attention if they don’t? Are parents and critics who resist such health interventions being cavalier about children’s health and wellbeing? How should health practitioners and other professionals relate to parents?

Bríd Hehir
writer, researcher and traveller; retired nurse and fundraiser
- Patricia Hamilton
president, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH); consultant and senior lecturer in neonatology, St George’s Hospital.
Dr Ellie Lee
reader in social policy, University of Kent, Canterbury; director, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies

 Produced by
Dr Ellie Lee reader in social policy, University of Kent, Canterbury; director, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies

 Recommended readings
Alan Johnson speech at the Fabian Society on Obesity

Not every child is lucky enough to live in an environment that promotes good health. Not every family has a leafy back garden for their kids to play in. Not every family can afford to buy fresh organic produce from the local farmer’s market, or to put food on the table that their children will refuse to eat.

Alan Johnson, Fabian Society, 23 July 2008

4Children health programme to target out-of-school settings

Youth clubs, extended schools and community groups are to improve young people's health by offering advice and support.

Sarah Cooper, Children & Young People Now, 25 June 2008

A Sociology of Health

The book will aid readers' understanding of how sociological approaches are crucial to understanding the impact that health and illness have on the behaviour, attitudes, beliefs, and practices, of an increasingly health-aware population.

David Wainwright, Sage, 30 January 2008

Paranoid Parenting: Why Ignoring the Experts May Be Best for Your Child

It seems that every day there is a warning about your children: everything from cots, babysitters, schools, supermarkets and public parks pose a danger. We are told that children's health, safety and welfare and constantly at risk.

Frank Furedi, Continuum, December 2002

Do you think that we have a need in society to demonise parents who don't play by the rules?

Edited transcript of a live online chat with sociologist Frank Furedi, author of Paranoid Parenting


Parents and Kids

spiked articles on the issue of parents and kids


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