Children want to help politicians make better decisions. That was the message in "Children's Voices", a tape-slide presentation launched last week by Edinburgh's social work department and the charity Children 1st. The politicians "know what is going on inside adult's heads, but not children's heads", as one put it.
Directed by Lorna Simpson, of Edinburgh's Magic Lantern Van, the project hopes to make adults better informed about the issues that concern young people. "I only get 20 per cent control of my life. If I try to control it more adults stand in the way and cause you grief and hassle," moaned one boy.
An array of do's and don'ts can be confusing. "I don't know what the rules are at school. There's so many of them," one child remarked. But another conceded that rules have their uses. "If there were no rules you wouldn't know what to do in life, so you would have to keep asking adults all the time." Fears include being left alone and being abducted by a stranger. But children like adults to talk to them about death. "My mum talked to me about the way they (my aunt and grandad) died, and that made me feel better."
There are strong views on bullying. "Some children are total outcasts just because of the way they are." And: "I wish I could fly then I could fly away from the people who tease me." The anti-bullying strategies promoted in schools win little confidence. "It doesn't help to tell. You just get bullied more. "
Edinburgh does not yet have plans to act on the views of its young citizens. But Brian Cavanagh, the city council's social work convener, welcomed the "chance for politicians to listen as opposed to talk".