Some children can experience bullying and discrimination because of their diabetes, and should be given more support to lead full and healthy lives, according to Diabetes UK.
There are 20,000 children under the age of 15 with Type 1 diabetes in the UK and it is estimated that a further 2,000 children are diagnosed every year.
Diabetes UK is gathering thousands of signatures on a petition to give children with diabetes more of a voice, and help highlight the needs of children and their families.
The Children’s Charter
The petition is linked to the launch of a new report, The Children’s Charter for Diabetes, which was developed by gathering views from children, families and healthcare professionals about the medical care and emotional support that children need. The report sets out ten policy statements representing what Diabetes UK believes must happen to ensure high-quality care.
Emotional wellbeing is one area of particular concern. Half of young people questioned said they needed to talk to someone about coping with their diabetes. Children raised fears about complications, problems with bullying and the impact on family, yet 87 per cent of young people never see a psychologist.
Some children have been talking to Diabetes UK about their feelings about having diabetes:
"My friends refused to go into town with me because they were worried about me fainting. I made no fuss, but I was very upset inside."
– Naomi, aged 12, Devon
"I wish all children could have an insulin pump if they want one. Also, Mummy says a lot of children are not cared for in school and that makes me sad."
– Claudia, aged 9, Lancashire
"When I do my injections sometimes, this girl always moans at me and says ‘why do you have to do that, it’s disgusting’, but I have to do it because it’s essential."
– Alice, aged 15, Kent
"When I was younger it was very hard because not many children invited me to play at their houses because their parents didn’t know how to look after my diabetes."
– Jake, aged 10, Northamptonshire
Building on good practice
"There are many examples of good practice which need to be built upon to improve the situation for all children. It is unacceptable that some children are made to feel different and isolated, and there is a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance that can lead to bullying or discrimination," said Douglas Smallwood, Diabetes UK Chief Executive.
"The emotional impact of diabetes on children’s wellbeing is a very serious issue and it can influence how well they manage their diabetes. Without proper management, diabetes can lead to serious health complications in the future, such as blindness, heart disease, stroke and amputation. The Children’s Charter for Diabetes is responding to what children, families and healthcare professionals say they want and need, and I urge everyone to sign the petition calling for children’s emotional and medical needs to be given more priority."