When we think of the teenage years we probably don’t usually think of neglect.
But here’s the truth of it…
Being a teenager can be a confusing time of life…
- Changes to body and mind
- Added pressures of school and exams
- Trying to find your way among friends and peers
It’s a uniquely challenging time of life!
So, having to deal with all these issues without sufficient love, care or support, can make things especially hard.
Sadly, that’s the reality for thousands of teenagers in the UK.
A report by the Children’s Society, Troubled Teens, suggests that a high number of 14 and 15-year-olds are living in homes that lack adequate levels of care and protection..
Key Points of note:
- 15% of Year 10 age teenagers had suffered some form of neglect at home
- 8% reported that they had suffered from a lack of emotional support or supervisory care
What kind of neglect?
So what does the neglect of teenagers actually look like? What sorts of things are we talking about?
- Failure to provide adequate supervision at home or within the familial set-up
- Lack of encouragement or interest in a child’s school or extra-curricular activities
- Lack of emotional support
- Lack of support, care, assistance or advice when problems arose
- Insufficient communication
It’s easy to fall back on stereotypes of what troubled teenagers are like. It’s as though many adults have forgotten what it’s like to be a child on the verge of maturity.
Teenagers need someone to be there and offer guidance, to show an interest in their lives and to help when needed.
When teenagers don’t get this support, the knock-on effects include:
- More likely to engage in risky behaviours, such as heavy drinking, smoking, truancy
- Increased potential for long term poor well-being and mental health issues
- Greater incidences of poor general health
The ACEs research has shown this to be true.
Of course, neglect is not necessarily born out of not caring. It may be the knock-on effect of other problems in the home: money worries or maybe a lack of parental skills.
The Children’s Society calls for greater support for teenagers and their families, through greater access to parenting classes and/or through the school system.
Here are some other possible solutions…
Key Recommendations from the Report
The Children’s Society are calling for:
- Improvement of local services to address needs of families with adolescent children
- Non-stigmatised and widely accessible parenting classes to be made available as a cornerstone of the Government’s ‘Life Chances’ Strategy
- Training for all those involved in the safeguarding of adolescents to further understand the scale of neglect and the potential impacts it can have
- Help young people recognise neglectful situations and raise awareness of help available. Schools can play a role in this through Personal, Social, Health, and Economic (PSHE) classes
- Improve the level of, and access to, support facilities available for teenagers
- Inclusiveness – Ensuring that services involved in cases of teenage neglect include all family members in the process, providing everyone a stake in finding solutions
- Government should look at policies which may place social or financial strains on families, and recognise the contribution such factors can have on parents capacity to care for their children appropriately.
We must help teenagers recognise neglectful situations and make the right help available to address them.
The neglect of teenagers is…well…a neglected issue!
Just because they are a little older, must mustn’t forget that they still need the consistent love and care of those around them at home.
What do you think?…
- What are your thoughts on teens and neglect? How could we improve what we do to address it?
- Please let me know your thoughts… Leave a comment below or click here.
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© Jonny Matthew 2017