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School stress and Brexit fears top list of worries for children in 2019

Release Date: 02 Jan 2019

Brexit fears and exam and school stress are what parents are most worried about for their children in 2019, a survey by Barnardo’s has found.

With 2018 drawing to a close, the UK’s leading children’s charity commissioned YouGov to poll parents of 4 to 18 year olds across the nation to find out what their hopes and fears are for their children in the next year.

In the survey, 86% of parents told us they had concerns about what 2019 will have in store for their children (with 55% saying they were either fairly concerned or very concerned and 31% saying not very).

The gap between the top two worries in the poll was closer than the margin in the Brexit referendum: While 42% of parents said they were worried about their children suffering exam and school stress, 40% were worried that Brexit may have a negative impact on their child’s future.

Worries about their children being bullied, either online or offline, came in a close third at 38%.

Barnardo’s is pleased to see parents are also concerned about the impact of cuts to children’s services (e.g. education, early years services, youth clubs etc. with 31% worried about this).

Local authorities are facing a £3bn funding gap for services by 2025 and it is vital the Government gives them enough resources to plug the gap.

This is why Barnardo’s has joined with other children’s charities and the Local Government Association, to call on the Prime Minister to ensure the services have enough resources. It is also urging people to join the campaign by emailing their MP to ask them to take a stand for vulnerable children.

And around a quarter (24%) said they are concerned their children may develop mental health issues and not get appropriate or timely support.

Just under a fifth (19%) are worried their children will be affected by drugs or knife crime, either as a victim or a perpetrator.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:

This poll provides a unique insight into what parents think as we near the end of 2018, and also provides some warning signs about problems that could develop if they aren’t treated.

It is troubling, although not surprising, that more than two fifths of parents (42%) are concerned about their children being stressed about school and exams.

Learning how to cope with stress is a vital life skill. Without this, children can find it overwhelming, and then it can develop into a serious mental health issue. Schools must look at ways of how to reduce the stress their pupils face, and how to deal with it.

The Government must also take note of parents concerns about cuts to children’s services and provide much needed funding to plug the £3billion shortfall in funding. Otherwise, we will see even less support for the vital work children’s services do – like counselling children to overcome trauma, helping them to stay in education or making sure they have a secure home

It is not all doom and gloom though, as parents have high hopes for their children being happy and healthy in 2019.

The vast majority (79%) hoped their offspring will feel loved and supported, 73% are hoping they will be mentally and physically healthy and 71% hope their children will receive a good education or training.

Other top hopes for next year include their children developing healthy friendships (71%) and 70% hoping they will be resilient and able to deal with any challenges they may face.

Thirty-five per cent say they hope Brexit will lead to good future opportunities for their children.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,209 parents. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th - 21st December 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). A total of 1,209 parents of children aged from four to 18 answered the three Barnardo’s questions from a sample of 6,607.


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