1.Everyone shall possess the right to freely express and publicise his thoughts in words, images or by any other means, as well as the right to inform others, inform himself and be informed without hindrance or discrimination 2.Exercise of the said rights shall not be hindered or limited by any type or form of censorship Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, Article 37.º

The Family Crisis in the United Kingdom

by Rita Jordão, correspondent in London

It is not from today that we are shocked by the lack of affection amongst the British families or the way the children enter in the adult world. Although it's frequent to assist to the "abandonment" of the youngsters in benefit of a good night spent in the bars of Algarve, it is difficult to conceive that Kate and Gerry McCann can be the example - or even the precocious victims - of a society where family life no longer exists.

The social pressure, the professional careers demands, the new technologies provoked the development of an individualistic society in which the children detach themselves from the parents as soon as they arrive to the legal age. These factors can be found in different classes and the McCanns did not escape to this social phenomena. Appearing to be the British perfect family, Madeleine's parents made a mistake that in some societies is considered unjustifiable and indefensible.

"Kate and Gerry represent the middle class, the English middle class and although we can think that their attitude of leaving the children alone at home might be wrong, they were not the only ones that did it. All the group took the same decision during the holidays in Praia da Luz and we must admit that in comparison with the Latin families, in United Kingdom, the children do not belong to the adult world, they don't dine out with the parents even because the parents would be judged because of that", explains Antonella Lazzeri journalist of the taboloid "The Sun" that follows the case since the beginning.

This is not however a novelty in the British society. According to a sociologist in the last years the British family has assisted to a decline almost irreversible.

"The family life changed drastically in the last years and such changes created new tension for parents and children" said the expert Angela Huges in 2005, putting in evidence the appearance of untraditional families that represent today more than 35% of the British society. A study made by UNICEF in 2007 accuses the family environment of the social crisis that affects "the heart of the British society".

According to that report, the United Kingdom is even the worst industrialised nation for the youngsters. The consequences include increasing numbers of youth crime, the higher rate of alcohol consumption in Europe, the fattest youth in Europe as well as the youth that loses virginity the earliest.

"This is a problem that affects all the society and we cannot continue to ignore our attitudes towards the youngsters. It is time to stop demonizing them and begin to support their decisions" defends the professor Albert Aynsley-Green,commenting on the report. And whilst the lower classes face increasing problems like the higher rates of pregnancy amongst the youngsters in Europe, with the gang culture and the excessive consumption of "pints" of beer between 1600 hours on Friday and 2300 hours on Sunday, every week the middle classes face other problems as the increasing detachment amongst the family members that led to the development of a society without emotions and without inter personal relationship and in which the youngsters and the elderly are neglected by lack of time , lack of money or more frequently by lack of will.

And amongst the group of the McCann's friends it was not only the nights that the children stayed alone. A great part of the days were also spent in creches and children clubs. A decision that reflects the statistics that children in the United Kingdom spend less time with their parents than children in other developed countries. A decision that still continues to astonish even the biggest defenders of the innocence of Kate and Gerry.

"Several people would think that a couple that spend all week working and have a busy life would want to spend every minute of the day during the holidays with their children. But people are different and only they can know why they took that decision", defends Nick Britten, journalist of the "Daily Telegraph" that since the beginning believed that Kate and Gerry are innocent victims of a tragedy.

Source Jornal de Notícias
Translation by Li


UNICEF: Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries

A comprehensive assessment of the lives and well-being of children and adolescents in the economically advanced nations [PDF file]


UK is accused of failing childre

British children: poorer, at greater risk and more insecure
1 million children face mental health problems
Boy given 13 years for bonfire murder
Bone fragment dates back to Jersey children's home
Tranquillisers putting children's lives at risk

Herald Tribune
UNICEF report ranks well-being of British, U.S. children as last in industrialized world

British and American Children most Disadvantaged

Britain’s children are unhappiest in the Western world
20 children a day treated for alcoholism


  1. It’s hard nowadays for a family to make a living without both parents working. The children of parents who both work are usually left in a childcare centre and often do not truly bond with the mother or father. In my opinion this is one reason why the youth of today are so troubled. I believe the first 5 years of a child’s life are the most important years in his or her development and I believe that at least one parent should be always present in these formative years, preferably the mother. Please don’t call me a chauvinist men and women are equal but we have to acknowledge that each is better suited for certain roles, in this case I feel the woman is the better nurturer.

    A society has laws and moral codes of conduct otherwise it wouldn’t be a society. It is dangerous to make statements such as people are different to justify leaving children who are not even capable of feeding themselves all alone or to justify any immoral act for that matter. This subtle acceptance of this occurrence as being perfectly normal when our conscience tells us it’s wrong, is an example of how a society begins to decline.

  2. guerra: sinto que é uma pessoa boa,pelo que tenho lido escrito por si.Realmente,cada vez é mais difícil ter tempo para os filhos.Mas as aspirações de muitos para atingirem um razoável? nível económico para darem aos filhos o que não tiveram nas suas vidas,por vezes impõe-se.Outros gostam das suas carreiras.Por ler o que escreve,não o classificarei como um homem chauvinista.Está consciente das realidades,que são muito diversas.E,sim,faz pena quando uma criança de poucos meses vai para uma creche.Já lá vai o tempo das famílias alargadas e o apoio das Avós ou Tias.
    Mas quanto ao facto de os Pais terem o direito de ficar com os filhos em casa concordo imenso consigo.
    Só discordo de uma coisa: vejo imensos Pais, já há alguns anos (homens)tão "maternais" como as Mulheres.Fico comovida com isso.
    O modo de pensar mudou e os preconceitos também.E por isso assumem tão bem os cuidados plenos com os filhotes.Lindo.

    O tempo/qualidade e o tempo/quantidade são bem diferentes,como bem sabe. E,normalmente as pessoas podem ter dificuldades em gerir esses tempos.

    Obrigada por 1 dia me ter dito que lhe poderia responder em português.
    Tudo de bom!


    Joana: peço desculpa mas fiz um "copy and paste" dos articles para o Blog do Paulo.Mas está lá de onde tirei( a morada do Seu Blog).

    Isto porque o melga anonimo atacou outra vez.Agora insinua ao Paulo que a PJ lhe diz o que deve colocar.E,obcessivamente volta ao ponto de partida: os 1ºs dias de Maio.

  3. Não sei se reparam nos mesmos sinais que me despoletam a atenção.

    Nada do pouco que direi agora é importante,mas os british tiveram o cuidado de mostrar as belíssimas casas,tanto dos pais de Maddie como a do casal que abandonou as férias imediatamente a seguir à convocatória, a qual os intimava a comparecer no Tribunal de Família.

    Mostrando o poder económico de ambas,quererão dizer-nos que nas classes favorecidas nada de mau se passa?


    Mas,a realidade mundial não é essa.Normalmente são escondidos os pecadilhos.


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