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Last Updated: Thursday November 29 2007 12:42 GMT

Hotseat: Children's Commissioner

Children's Commissioner for England Sir Al Aynsley-Green

We put YOUR questions to the Children's Commissioner for England - Sir Al Aynsley-Green.

Check out what he had to say.

What made you want to help children across England?
Zara, 10, Crawley, England

My role is to promote awareness of the views and interests of children, and it's a subject I care passionately about.

There are 11 million children and young people in England - that's why the organisation I lead is called 11 MILLION.

But I am very concerned that too often in this country they aren't listened to by adults and aren't properly valued.

There is still so much resistance in the adult world to the idea that children have anything valuable to say and that is what I am trying to change.

How do you help kids?
Alex, 8, Newark

Above all, by listening to them and valuing what they have to say, and by making sure that other adults in England do the same too.

I've been doing the job for two-and-a-half years now and everything I do, everything I work on, is shaped by what children and young people have told me.

That way I know what life is like for them, and that way I can focus on the issues that really matter to them.

Then I feed those views into Government to try to secure change and improvement for children.

Do you think that children get too many presents for Christmas?
David, 10, Leicester, England

Well, I think we all love getting presents! But there's certainly a lot of pressure on families to buy the latest toys or gadgets, or the newest clothes or music.

I think we all need to be aware that there are thousands of children in England who don't have much money, and for the parents or carers of these children, that pressure is even worse.

The real messages of Christmas are about giving and caring, and everyone can have a very happy Christmas if it is based around those traditional values, which are valid whatever your faith.

My mum and dad are divorced but my mum is having trouble with the child support agency (CSA). Are you in charge of it and if so are you planning on improving it?
Callum, 12, Doncaster

I'm not in charge of the CSA - that's the job of the Government's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

But I'm pleased that the DWP has seen some of the problems in the way the CSA is working at the moment and I hope they can be ironed out so the system starts to work really well.

I also hope that you are getting the support that you need at what I'm sure is a difficult time for you.

I'm getting bullied - what can you do to help stop people getting bullied?
Maryam, 12, Oxford

Bullying is horrible - it causes real distress to people, and it's an issue that a lot of children raise with me.

My advice to you, and anyone else who is being bullied, is to let someone know that it's happening, like a teacher or a parent or carer, remember that you are not the only one who is being bullied and remember that it's not your fault.

Can you do more to help kids who are moving?
Sarah, 12, Essex

Moving around the country can certainly be difficult for children and young people - it means settling in to a new area, going to a new school and making new friendships.

But schools do offer schemes and clubs to help new arrivals settle in quickly and my advice would be to join these as they will help you find friends and feel at home.

One of my key pieces of work at the moment focuses on the aspect of transitions - the moving from one school to another, for instance - and I am speaking with 90 children throughout the year so that we can help shape Government policy in this area.

Why do we have to go to school?
Theo, 11, London

Because it gives everyone the chance to learn and to give themselves the best chance of being the best they can.

Good schools are actually enjoyable places to be because of all the things they offer - our friends are there and there's lots to do, and at the same time we have the opportunity to learn and improve ourselves so that's very important.

Children also have the right to education - this is enshrined under Articles 28 and 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the UK signed up to 18 years ago this month.

You can find out more about the work that I'm doing with my team at 11 Million by logging on to the following website:




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