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Neglected teenagers ‘need support’

22 December 2016

CHILDREN'S SOCIETY

THOUSANDS of teenagers in the UK may be suffering as a result of poor care and attention at home, the Children’s Society has warned in a new report. Parents are neglecting the emotional needs of teenagers on the presumption that they do not require as much support as younger children, it says.

The report,Troubled Teens, pub­lished earlier this month, argues for a “step change” in the quality of advice and support being given to parents bring­­ing up teenage chil­dren. “Neglect can lead to signifi­cant problems,” it says, “including with mental ill health, substance misuse, school (attendance, behavi­our and attainment), offend­ing and early sexual activity, and can be the precursor of serious harm,” it said.

The Church of England’s lead bishop on safeguarding, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, has welcomed the re­­search. “The Church of England is committed to any recommendations that would improve the lives of young people, particularly those who are neglected as teenagers. We look forward to responding to the full research and recommendations in due course,” he said.

The report is based on an online survey of 2000 young people aged 12 to 14, across 72 schools in the UK. One in seven 14- and 15-year-olds reported some form of neglect from parents or carers, it says. These included a lack of awareness of their activities outside of the home, in­­sufficient healthcare, and a lack of interest in their education.

Nearly half of this age group (46 per cent) who had experienced emo­tional neglect in the past year said that they had turned to alcohol to cope. This group was more than twice as likely to turn to alcohol misuse, smoking, or truanting than those who felt that they had been supported by their parents.

The chief executive of the Children’s Society, Matthew Reed, said: “The Government has a massive role to play in making sure the needs of teenagers, and their parents, are never forgotten.”

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