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The Importance of Parental Perspective When Addressing Important Health Issues in the Nation’s Children

The health of a child is often a primary concern for parents beginning when they first learn they are pregnant. But research indicates that a child’s health isn’t only important for their current wellbeing, but can affect their overall physical and emotional wellness well into adulthood.

At the end of 2020, the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW) released a report titled The Health of Australia’s Children 2020 evaluating data collected by the AIHW over several years and across seven domains– health, education, social support, household income and finance, parental employment, housing, and justice and safety. The study found that, while Australian children are generally healthy, there are areas where improvements can be made.

Why is Childhood Health so Important?

Childhood wellness affects how children feel in the here and now. When children feel good, they can enjoy their everyday lives. Running, playing, and interacting socially with their peers happens organically.

Chronic illness and/or a lack of access to healthy foods, medications, and/or proper medical care can negatively affect a child’s quality of life and lead to more serious illnesses.

It can also negatively affect a child later in life. For example, poor dental hygiene in childhood has been associated with an increased risk of certain chronic diseases later in adulthood, including stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Study Findings

The Good

According to the report, the rate of infant deaths has decreased (dropping from 5.0 to 3.3 deaths for every 1,000 live births, and from 20 to 10 deaths per 100,000 children), and the childhood cancer survival rate has increased, yet perinatal conditions, injury, and cancer are still the leading causes of death amongst children in Australia.

Also decreasing was the rate of children aged 10–14 under youth justice supervision, from 95 to 73 per 100,000 children.

Needs Improvement

According to the study, 1 in 4 children between the ages of 5 – 14 are considered obese, and a whopping 96% of children in the same age range do not eat enough vegetables. To help develop your child’s palate and encourage healthy eating habits, read our previous blog post here.

Also concerning—more than 19,000 children aged 0 – 14 were homeless.

What Do Aussie Children Think?

According to the report findings:

  • 91% of children aged 12 – 13 felt safe in their own neighbourhoods in 2015 – 2016.

  • One out of every five Year 4 students claimed to experience bullying on a weekly basis in 2015.

  • 94% of children in years 4, 6, and 8 reported to spend quality time talking, having fun with, or learning with their family most days of the week in 2014.

  • 97% of children aged 12 – 13 reported having someone to talk to if they had a problem in 2016.

  • Nearly 9 out of every 10 children aged 12 – 13 said they would speak to their mum and/or dad if they had a problem in 2016.

  • For children in years 4, 6 and 8, health ranked as the second most important domain, after family, for having a good life in 2014.

Top 10 Health Issues Affecting Children According to the Public

In 2015, the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne asked the public about the health of Australian children. The top 10 health concerns according to the public were:

  1. Excessive screen time

  2. Obesity

  3. Lack of physical activity

  4. Poor diet

  5. Bullying

  6. Illegal drug use

  7. Family/domestic violence

  8. Internet safety

  9. Child abuse/neglect

  10. Suicide

Other Important Findings About What Parents Think

  • Nearly 60% of Australians view screen time as a serious problem for children and young people.

  • Parents tend to rate obesity as more of a problem for other children in the community than for their own children.

  • 1 in 10 parents believe dental issues are a problem for their own children.

  • The top 10 perceived health issues relate to child safety, lifestyle concerns, and mental health issues.

The Problem with Parental Perception

It is interesting to note that, while 48% of parents polled considered obesity to be a serious health problem for children, only 8% identified their child as being obese, suggesting parents are less likely to recognise health concerns in their own families. This may be the case, not only for medical issues like obesity and dental disease but could extend into mental health issues.

For the most part, Australian parents should give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done. Most Aussie children are safe, healthy, and well.

The takeaway here is that parents should be open to acknowledging if and when their child experiences health and wellness issues. The sooner the situation is realised, the sooner a child can get proper medical assistance and return to a healthy state.

For any more information, call Clovel Childcare and Early Learning Centre, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. For any information about our Educational Programs, give us a call at 02 9199 0294 or fill in this contact us form.

Thanks for reading,

Clovel Childcare

1300 863 986