30 Aug 2017

The well-being of 2.2 million UK teenagers is being damaged by fear of crime

Male teenager with two female teenagers walking in park

Fear of crime is damaging the well-being of 2.2 million teenagers in the UK, with one in three teenage girls fearful of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys 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 2 in 5 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 survey

The Children's Society's survey of 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.' 

The Children’s Society is calling for the government to urgently address the funding shortfall in children’s services – predicted to reach £2bn by 2020 – and for local government, police forces, schools and other local agencies to work together to improve the well-being of children in their area.

ENDS


Media contacts

Email: The Children's Society Media Team

Telephone: 0207 841 4422 (office hours)

Mobile: 078107 96508 (24 hours)

Notes to editors

The Good Childhood Report 2017:

Key statistics:

3,000 children aged 10-17, or their parents, were asked whether they experienced any of 27 disadvantages identified by The Children’s Society in the last 5 years:

  • 38% were worried about being the victims of 2 or more crimes or anti-social behaviour
  • 34% of girls said they were worried about being followed by a stranger, compared to 19% of boys
  • 25% of boys were worried about being assaulted, compared with 19% of girls
  • 36% of children were from families that had struggled to pay bills
  • 3% who had experienced none of the disadvantages identified for the report were unhappy (low well-being) compared with 29% of those who had experienced seven or more disadvantages. [Figure 2, Good Childhood Report summary 2017]
  • Local Government Association analysis, May 2017, predicted a funding gap in children’s services of £2bn by 2020.