Posted: 19 September 2019

What are young people most concerned about in society?

Our latest Good Childhood Report found that children as young as 10 are worrying about societal issues, the most common concern being crime.  

Children should be able to grow up feeling safe in their local area, not living in fear of crime. We listened to young people and looked at the facts behind their concerns. 

What are young people saying about crime?

Through our Good Childhood research, we talked to young people all over the country. Here is what they told us:

'It just seems like there’s more crime as time goes on.'
The feeling that crime is increasing is understandable. Although we have seen a broad decline in crime over the past 20 years, the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that there has been a slight increase in overall crime in the last two years. 

The overall increase isn't hugely significant but, when we narrow down to specific crimes, we find that those involving weapons such as threats to kill and attempted murder have risen significantly in the past few years. It understandably feels like 'there's more crime as time goes on'.

A secondary school boy adds,

'I am scared for young people doing crimes and joining gangs.'

Through our research around child criminal exploitation and county lines, we know this is a real worry for young people. Our Counting Lives report found that outside of London, arrests of 10-17 year olds for possession with intent to supply Class A drugs – one of the indicators of criminal exploitation through county lines trafficking – have grown by 49% in the last three years. Criminal gangs are taking advantage of younger children and both boys and girls of all ages are at risk. 

'[Where I live] there’s quite a few stabbings and people stealing.'

Many young people we talked to expressed a concern around knife crime. According to ONS, there was an 8% increase in police recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the past year. In terms of stealing, there was no change in overall theft offences in the latest year, but there has been a 13% rise compared with two years ago. See the map below to look at knife crime rates around England and Wales and how it's changed since last year.

Another secondary school boy told us, 'young people might be worried about the crimes they might be a victim of e.g. getting mugged, getting stabbed.' This is a real concern for young people in modern society. Another young girl explicitly states, 'I'm worried about knife crime'. Young people are telling us loud and clear about the issues they face but not enough of us have been listening to them. 

This year, there have already been over 100 fatal stabbings in the UK and seventeen of them were under twenty years old. In 2018, in West Midlands alone, 700 children aged 10 to 16 were victims of knife crime. It's a real problem that many young people are very concerned about.


This isn't what growing up should be like, children should feel safe and carefree - not living in fear of being stabbed, robbed or exploited. Only by listening to young people can we help them overcome the challenges of modern childhood and face their future with hope, confidence and optimism. 

It's time to show young people they matter. Pledge your support and let them know.

 PLEDGE #IHEARYOUTH

By Kaja Zuvac-Graves
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