News in Digest: In the children’s best interests – or ours?

Whether it’s educating, motivating or punishing them, the authorities and parents are missing the mark more often than delivering

Some 20 children from Struer in central Jutland had their field trip cut short on May 2 when a wolf sat just 50 metres away and observed them.

It is every parent’s worst nightmare because we know we would do anything to protect our little ones, but do we and the government always make the right decisions?

Pencils for toys
The first four years of school tend to go smoothly. During the SFO classes for children aged 6-10 the focus is mastering the basics: learning to read and counting. Social skills, empathy and personal development, the main focus of daycare, also remain a high priority.

But children aged 5-6 are now being encouraged to swap their toys for pencils at daycare. From July 1, 6.8 million kroner has been allocated to facilitate the early start to the SFO.

Where’s the empathy?
despite the solid start to their schooling, many children play truant once they leave the SFO, with a third of headteachers complaining there are no guidelines in place for dealing with excessive absenteeism.

The problem is so bad at upper-secondary schools (ages 16-19) that Merete Riisager, the education minister, has recommended cutting the SU of students who are absent for more than 15 percent of their schooling in a quarter.

Votes at any cost
But does the government have the children’s best interests at heart, or is it more preoccupied with votes?

Take teenage smoking. A recent Vidensråd for Forebyggelse report suggests pricing them out by doubling the price of cigarettes – a move backed by 59 percent of the public.

Nevertheless, Parliament will only consider raising the price from 45 to 65 kroner, as hardly any politicians are willing to go further.

Lock them away
And what about teenagers who make or share sex videos featuring participants under the age of 18 – is charging children with distributing child pornography and locking them up before their adult life has started the best way forward?

Two boys, who were 16 and 17 at the time they shared a video, have been sentenced to 20 and 40 days in prison – a case that could set a punitive precedent for the ‘Umbrella Complex’ case involving over 1,000 other young people.

Arguably more moronic
It’s not like adults can be trusted online. A study by the Tænk Kemi (think chemicals) consumer council reveals that Danish customers buy cosmetic products from with no notion of the danger the ingredients pose.

Of 39 products purchased by Tænk Kemi, 21 of them did not have a required ingredient list. Nevertheless, is the fifth most popular online store in Denmark.

Learn from them, maybe
It’s no wonder we’re rearing a nation of eager consumers.

Two-thirds of children aged 7–12 watch videos on YouTube every day, reports DR, where channel presenters are increasingly being called influencers due to their ability to peddle advertising.

The YouTubers are employing marketing managers to maximise their potential, and over ten companies have been launched in the last five years to cater to the demand.

Concerns have been expressed over the way the advertising is presented, but “the viewers tend to know that someone is trying to sell them something; they are just happy that the YouTubers are making money,” Gonzo Media chief executive Martin Wiinholt told DR.

Resort to violence
Still, the parents should know better, right? Well, try telling that to the 1,603 children under the age of nine who experienced violence in 2017 – a 536 percent since 2010, according to advocacy organisation Børns Vilkår in co-operation TrygFonden.

Figures from Danmarks Statistik claimed that children don’t get any help in four out of every ten cases concerning violence and abuse, but then it turned out the figures were erroneous – yes, probably the parents’ fault again.

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