The 'debate' this week in Parliament regarding smoking in cars with child passengers had me hanging my head in disbelief. We are talking about an activity that puts more than 4,000 chemicals into the air, a number of which are known to cause cancer. Why are we debating it at all... and why are people in our government still opposing it?
Any sensible adult knows that one should not smoke around children and especially when one is in an enclosed space such as a car or even in the same room; however do we really need legal legislation for this? There are a number of issues that we need clarification on, but we also must ask how the police are going to enforce this law?
Twenty five years ago the world made a promise to children - a promise enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We promised every child the right to survive and be healthy, the right to an education and the right never to be subjected to violence. Through the use of data, we can tell where and how far those promises are, and are not, being kept and identify what more needs to be done to fulfil them.
There were nights the crying got so bad, I hoped my son would stop breathing altogether. There were worse nights than that. And the guilt I felt- for those thoughts, and for my inability to help my son- further fuelled my suffering. I felt as though I deserved to hurt. Then one day in our son's second year, my wife convinced me that we should take him to the clinic...
We live in a society where children are constantly told to "do as their told" without explanation. The mantra "always do as adults say" passed down for generations. So when that means being told to put up with forced sexual activity by an adult and staying quiet about it, guess what sometimes happens?
Friday is the Day of the Girl - a moment to recognise that children, especially girls, despite their own enormous determination, often face insurmountable challenges to fulfilling their potential. They face wholly undeserved social, cultural and economic barriers. Although there are more obvious girl-specific barriers, in much of Africa malaria is one of the greatest single obstacles to the fulfilment of a girl's potential - and one of the cheapest to remedy. Not only is it one of the biggest killers of children under five (around half a million children a year in Africa), but for those who survive the bout of malaria, it can be recurrently debilitating for years afterwards.
These three million children are not just growing up in material poverty, but in environmental poverty. They can not afford nature... Children growing up in deprived areas are more likely to be underweight at birth, and obese in their teens. They are at much greater risk from accidental injury in the home and tend to perform worse at school.
In a new report the British Heart Foundation revealed that 80% of children are not eating the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day. Half eat chocolates, sweets and fizzy drinks each day. Combine that with the fact that the majority of children do not get the recommended hour of exercise per day, and you've got a perfect recipe for childhood obesity, chronic heart disease and early death.