A New Phase: Now We Are Six
This issue marks the sixth birthday for the Webmag, and another turning point in its development. Over the last six years the Webmag has achieved a lot. It has published about a thousand articles and received several million hits. We hope that they represent a lot of readers who have found the Webmag interesting and useful.
A Changing Scene for Children
During the Webmag’s life, the childcare scene has changed a lot. Worldwide, children and young people have been affected by a host of problems – HIV/AIDS, the Boxing Day tsunami, prostitution, trafficking, under-age employment, internet porn. All of these have had international aspects which would not have been affecting children fifty years ago. They come on top of the usual problems of war, drought, floods, earthquakes and poverty, which have permeated recorded history.
Human kind has, however, made brave attempts to tackle these problems. There have been massive charitable responses by millions of individuals to the needs of people affected by earthquakes, drought and the tsunami, often putting governments to shame. To the credit of governments, third world debt is now being written off. There are organised international measures being taken to address internet porn and child trafficking and the exploitation of under-age workers. Attempts are being made to use education and drugs to counter AIDS in Africa. A lot of these ventures are only just starting up, or are inadequately financed, but they are on the way.
The only area where the world has taken a step backwards from the point of view of children’s interests is in the misery and disruption caused by conflict and war. Children are still being maimed and killed and losing their parents and other family members. They still suffer insecurity, loss of homes and disrupted education in many countries. Sometimes this is at the hands of individuals or groups who feel badly treated or have a message they wish to make known. Sometimes it is the governments of developed countries who need to be called to account. It is time that war was a thing of the past.
In Britain, the Government has invested more money in children and young people than any previous government, and it is having an impact. Child poverty is being reduced. With the availability of more childcare, parents are having the option of working, and those who are poorly paid are being supported financially. Services for children and young people have also been reorganised and developed. Only the juvenile justice system still falls seriously short, with large numbers of young people still in prison establishments.
Against this background, the Webmag has argued for high quality services for children, for a unified profession (social pedagogy perhaps?) to meet children’s needs, and for a world-wide approach so that countries can learn from each other and address transnational problems.
We look forward to every child having a good education and good health. We look forward to a day when everyone in the world has a reasonable income and no one has to rely on exploiting another person or country to obtain wealth. We look forward to dealing with problems by “jaw-jaw, not war-war”, so that children can grow up in security. We look forward to a time when everyone is shown respect, and no one suffers discrimination on grounds of race, creed etc. We look forward to a time when resources can be used on dealing with problems beyond man’s control, not those caused by mankind.
Because of human nature, these hopes may seem like pie in the sky, but they are all within our collective control, and if we act, we can stop a lot of these problems before they fester and require drastic painful action.
Looking to the next six years, the Webmag will continue to do its bit, trying to spread good ideas and warning of impending problems. It will be doing so, though, without Bill Stevenson as its Production Manager. Bill has done all the design work and technical stuff for the Webmag since the first issue, and we are deeply indebted to him for the time he has put in, his conscientious attention to detail and his efforts to ensure that readers can access the material easily and quickly. He has also been responsible for the jokes, but perhaps we will not dwell on that. So thankyou, Bill.
Thankyou also to the hundreds of authors who have written for the Webmag over the last six years, and to the sponsors who have funded its production. The end of one era, and the start of another. We look forward to what the next six years bring, both for the Webmag and for the world of children.