17 Feb 2009

Children and young people have become major victims of the recession, according to a new survey by The Children's Society.
Teenagers are finding it hard to get a job, many children say their parents have been thrown out of work, and that adults are talking anxiously about the downturn.

Many say that parents cannot afford to pay for school trips, that holidays have been cancelled and pocket money has been cut.

In perhaps the most worrying finding, one in four (22%) of those aged between 17 and 19 say they cannot find a job because of the accelerating downturn in the economy.

This is an alarming piece of news since 9.5% of young people in Britain are already so-called NEETS (not in education, employment, or training). Their numbers have steadily increased over the last ten years – from 8.1% in 1999 - and this survey suggests the total could climb further.

Meanwhile many children fear that the prospects for their parents are looking grim, with one in 14 (7%) of those aged between 11and 16 saying that their mum or dad has lost their job, according to the survey conducted for The Children's Society by Nfp Synergy, the leading not-for-profit research group.

The growing tide of bleak economic news is making children anxious. Almost half (46%) of 11-13 year olds say that they have heard their parents and families talking about it a lot in a worried way.

Researchers found that the older the children are the more personally affected they feel about the deteriorating economic picture. One in five 11 to 13 year olds say they are worried about what they see on the news, a figure that rises to 28 % among the 17 to 19 year age group.

This troubling picture emerges in Nfp’s latest Youth Engagement Monitor survey that interviewed 1,005 children and young people about the credit crunch.

This survey comes shortly after The Children's Society published the landmark report of its three-year Good Childhood Inquiry, ‘’A Good Childhood,’’ which made 30 recommendations aimed at making childhood better.

The recommendations included a demand that the Government should make better vocational education top priority to give less academic children a chance to survive in an increasingly competitive market place. The report also called for the Government to eradicate child poverty by 2020.

The impact of the downturn is biting in other significant ways. One in five 11 to 13 year olds (20%) say that they have been told by their parents that they will not be going on holiday this year. More than one in four (26%) say that they have suffered a pocket money cut.

One in 12 children aged 11 to 16 say that their parents cannot afford to send them on school trips.

Overall, children appear to be well informed about what is going on in the economy. Only one in 16 children between the ages of 11 and 16 (6%) said ‘’I don’t know what the credit crunch is.’’

Girls appear to be more sensitive about how the news was affecting their parents. Four out of ten female respondents (40%) said that their parents were expressing concern about the situation affecting their family while only three out of ten males (30%) said adults were talking about it a lot.

More than one in three girls (36%) said they were worried about what they saw in the news while only one in four boys (25%) felt the same.

Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: "The results of this survey confirm our fears that children are front line victims of the recession. This is worrying news because our latest report, A Good Childhood, reported that some 22 per cent of our children already live below the poverty line, making the UK the most unequal of the Western European countries.

"This is simply unacceptable and we all must make a concerted push to end child poverty. If anything the recession makes it even more important to do this because if we fail children now we are going to, as a society, suffer the consequences for generations to come."

Hilary Fisher, Director of the Campaign to End Child Poverty said: "This survey highlights how absolutely vital it is for the Government to invest in this year’s Budget the £3bn that is urgently needed to reach its target to halve child poverty by 2010, and improve the lives of millions of children at this most difficult of financial periods."

Media enquiries:
For more information or to arrange interviews please contact:
The Children’s Society’s Media Team, Tel: 020 7841 4422 Email: rdb@childsoc.org.uk, mobile: 07810 796 508.

Notes to Editors:

The survey was carried out by nfpSynergy’s Youth Engagement Monitor 2- Tenter Ground, London E1 7NH. Telephone: 0207 426 8864. Email: chiara.vitali@nfpsynergy.net.

Research conducted November 2008 in an online questionnaire with a sample of 1,005 members of the public aged 11-25. Fieldwork was carried out by Research Now.

’A Good Childhood: searching for values in a competitive age’ was published by Penguin on 5 February 2009, priced at £9.99.

The Children’s Society is a leading children’s charity committed to making childhood better for all children in the UK;

The Campaign to End Child Poverty is made up of more than 140 organisations including children’s charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others, concerned about the unacceptably high levels of child poverty in the UK. These groups have united behind the Campaign because there is an urgent opportunity to ensure the Government keeps its promise to reach its targets of halving child poverty by 2010 and eradicating it by 2020.