BBC Children’s news programme, Newsround, discusses democracy ahead of this week’s General Election

BBC Children's news programme, Newsround, discusses democracy ahead of this week's General Election

How Newsround explains democracy to children – and why it matters

The popular children’s news programme Newsround explains key concepts and terms like MP, voting, and what a Prime Minister does. As well as learning from Gladiators’ referee Mark Clattenberg on how to debate respectfully – and hearing from children themselves

July 1, 2024 – What do today’s children make of democracy? There has been a fair amount of soul-searching recently about the attitudes of younger adults in the UK towards democratic norms, so what about the next generation of voters? Should we be worried about what children think about democracy?

You might be relieved to hear that at BBC Newsround we think the future might be brighter than the worst fears, if our experience talking to children during this election campaign is anything to go by. We’ve been around the UK asking what children want politicians to do for them, and on Monday 1 July we have an extended edition of Newsround all about democracy. Taking the principle that the best way to learn about something is to try it yourself, we spent some time at one school in Liverpool, where they have been holding an election for a pupil to sit on the school council.

The children there were all highly engaged in the election and keen to take part. There was a debate format where the three candidates, representing three “parties”, presented their policy platforms to the electorate in the assembly hall. With a keen eye towards a retail offer to voters, all three candidates made increasing the provision of snacks a key part of their pitch.

And then there were the familiar rituals around elections – ballot papers marked in secret, the opening of ballot boxes and the counting of votes. And then a nerve-jangling declaration.

Throughout, the children listened to each other with respect, argued their case persuasively, and emphasised that each voter’s decision was theirs alone to make.

As well as hearing from the children themselves, in our bulletin on democracy we explain key concepts and terms like MP, voting, and what a Prime Minister does. Former leading football referee – and perhaps more importantly for children, current referee of the BBC’s Gladiators – Mark Clattenberg, gives some tips on how to debate effectively and respectfully with others who may not share your views.

The BBC is mandated by its charter to provide content so that all audiences can “participate in the democratic process, at all levels, as active and informed citizens”. At Newsround, with our estimated audience of 3.2 million children watching at least once a week, in schools alone, we are focussing on the citizens of the future. We hope we’ve been able to demonstrate to them that democracy can be serious, important, and dare we suggest it, even a little bit fun as well.

Newsround is available on BBC iPlayer, the CBBC channel and at

BBC iPlayer

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