Tens of thousands of British teenagers are neglected by their parents, new research suggests.
The Children’s Society found that perhaps as many as three children in every Year 10 class experience some form of parental neglect. They are often mistakenly seen as in need of less care than younger children, the charity claims, and as a result are not offered emotional support or protection.
Around 2,000 young people from 72 schools were surveyed about the care they receive from their parents including emotional and educational support, supervision and physical care. The older children, aged between 14 and 15, were also asked questions about alcohol, smoking and truancy.
Around 15 per cent of the 14 and 15 year-olds questioned said they had experienced some kind of neglect. Eight per cent also claimed their parents had not helped them get through a problem in the previous year. Of those who reported neglect, almost half – 46 per cent – said they had been drunk recently. This was almost double the rate of teenagers who had adequate care and support from their parents. Similarly, neglected teens were twice as likely to have deliberately missed school and three times more likely to take up smoking.
The Troubled Teens report also reveals that teenagers whose parents have not provided adequate care and support are more likely to be unhappy with their lives and pessimistic about their future prospects than their peers.
Children’s Society Chief Executive Mathew Reed described the results of their report “deeply worrying”. Although young people can be seen as “more resilient than younger children … they still need care from their parents to meet their needs, support their education and keep them safe”, he insisted.
Reed claimed there was “little dedicated advice readily available for parents of teenagers”, adding that the government had “a massive role to play in making sure the needs of teenagers, and their parents, are never forgotten”.
Last year, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary claimed that more than a third of police investigations into child neglect cases were inadequate. This was based on an analysis of more than 600 incidents across eight police forces around the UK.