Babies and children * Young people

Half of Britons think children are "violent and abusive"

Half of people thinks children  violent  and  abusive Findings depressing, children's charity says

Half of Britons think today’s children are ‘animals’, a shocking new survey reveals.

Modern day kids are branded “feral, violent and angry” by adults who have effectively given up on the young generation.

The study, commissioned by Barnardo’s, shows 49 per cent of the UK public hold a negative view of all children.

But this is because the bad behaviour of a small minority has skewed perception of youngsters as a whole, the charity argues.

The ICM poll also finds 44 per cent of Britons brand children in this country as feral; 47 per cent think they are mostly “angry, violent and abusive” and a quarter say children who behave anti-socially are beyond help even by the age of ten.

Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie described the findings as “depressing”, pointing out that the majority of children are in fact “well behaved, attending school, taking part in activities and a significant number [are] contributing to their communities and volunteering.”

Recent events such as the UK riots have conspired to create an impression that Britain’s youth has largely run wild, even though the truth is far removed.

She said: "So many young people do positive things but they're not advertised because we live in a society where we do look at the negative side of things in every walk of life.

"So it's very easy to demonise young people and use them as a scapegoat for the social difficulties that we're having right now."

Carrie added: “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.”

Insisting the charity was not asking people to “put up with yobbish behaviour,” she nevertheless urged people to change their attitudes.

Nearly 40 per cent of respondents said they don’t believe children who get into trouble are in need of help.

The “small minority of children who come across as angry and abusive,” Carrie said, 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 survey coincides with the charity’s new TV advertising campaign. The ads, which launch on Channel 4 after 8.20pm on November 3rd, show the impact that believing in a child can have in turning their behaviour, and their life, around.

Research shows that, of those children in contact with the youth justice system:

  • 60 per cent have significant speech, language or communication difficulties
  • Two out of five girls and one quarter of 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) have spent time in local authority care

This article was published on Thu 3 November 2011

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