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Scandal of Britons who have given up on children

Release Date: 03 Nov 2011

Many people are at risk of giving up on children altogether, a shocking new poll commissioned by Barnardo’s has found.

It shows that nearly half the UK population (49 per cent) agree that children today are beginning to behave like animals.

ICM Research reveals that the public holds a negative view of all children, despite the majority being well behaved, attending school, taking part in activities and a significant number contributing to their communities and volunteering.

The findings also show:

  • 44 per cent agree that children in this country are becoming feral
  • Nearly half (47 per cent) agree that the trouble with young people is that they’re angry, violent and abusive
  • one in four (25 per cent) of people think that children who behave badly or anti-socially are beyond help by the age of 10
  • more people disagreed with the statement that children who get into trouble are in need of help (38 per cent) than agreed (36 per cent).

Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said:

"It is depressing that so many people are ready to give up on children, writing them off as ‘animals’ and ‘feral’.  What hope is there for childhood in the UK today if this is how adults think? We seem to have forgotten the fact that most children are well behaved and instead we are unquestionably accepting a stereotype of young people as criminal and revolting.

"We aren’t asking people to put up with yobbish behaviour, but we do need to change our attitudes towards troubled children. The small minority of children who come across as angry and abusive have sadly often been scarred by their upbringing. But it’s never too late to believe in children and change their life story – it doesn’t have to end how it began.

The results of the survey come to light as the UK’s biggest children’s charity launches its television advert ‘Life Story’, which demonstrates the journey that many troubled children go through, and the impact that believing in a child can have in turning their life around.

Barnardo’s argues that the difficult behaviour of those in contact with the youth justice system must be tackled more effectively, particularly given that:

  • 60 per cent have significant speech, language or communication difficulties
  • two out of five girls and one out of four boys in custody have experienced violence at home
  • more than a quarter of young men (27 per cent) and more than half of young women (55 per cent) spent some time in local authority care.

Evidence shows that the sort of whole family approaches Barnardo’s runs which challenge and support parents and their children to face up to their behaviour and accept responsibility for their actions have a major impact.

Life Story will premiere across the Channel 4 network, after 8.20pm, on Thursday, November 3 and will run until Friday, November 18.


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