Fear of crime is damaging the wellbeing of UK teenagers

One in three teenage girls is fearful of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys is worried they’ll be assaulted, new research from The Children’s Society reveals.

The charity’s 2017 Good Childhood Report has found that more than 1 million older children are contending with at least seven serious problems in their lives, significantly harming their happiness. Fear of crime has emerged as the most widespread of the issues for children aged 10-17, with almost two in five worried about falling victim to two or more crimes.

One teenage girl interviewed by the charity said, “[They’re] blowing kisses, men beeping, standing asking [your] age, whistling, shouting, stopping vans next to you, asking for [your] number.”

A 13 year old boy said, “You’ve got to fight to like kind of survive around this area. You have to stick up for yourself the whole time.”

Closely following this fear were the worries of 2.1 million teenagers whose parents are struggling to pay the bills.

The report

The Children’s Society research on 3,000 10-17 year olds revealed that more than half (53%) have experienced at least three hardships in the last five years, making them markedly unhappier. Teenagers who have experienced seven or more serious issues in their lives are ten times more likely to be unhappy than those who have experienced none.

The findings support The Children’s Society’s determination to focus more closely on helping children who are facing what it calls ‘multiple disadvantage’. Other disadvantages identified in the report include having a parent with a serious illness, suffering neglect and being at risk of homelessness.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said, “It is alarming to see that millions of teenagers are contending with a multitude of problems in their lives and suffering as a result.

“Teenagers are coming under pressure in all areas of their lives, whether it’s being afraid to walk down their street, worrying about money, or having a parent who’s seriously unwell and this is damaging their well-being. Sadly we know many of these teenagers will only get help if they reach crisis point – such as running away from home, or abusing alcohol or drugs. With a £2 billion funding gap for children’s services looming, children are increasingly finding themselves with nowhere to turn, putting them at greater risk.”

Why was Understanding Society used?

The report said, “Since the mid-1990s, the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) – now called Understanding Society – has been measuring children’s happiness with life as a whole every year. As a time series, this dataset is a valuable source of information on how children’s overall well-being has changed in recent decades.

“Understanding Society also asks children about their happiness with five aspects of life: family, friends, appearance, school and schoolwork. We make use of this data to examine time trends in children’s subjective well-being in these areas.”

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