UK

Many adults think children are 'feral', survey finds

A policeman talks to a youth in London
Image caption Barnado's says attitudes towards troubled children must change

Almost half of Britons think children are violent and starting to behave like animals, a Barnardo's survey suggests.

The children's charity says the research suggests society holds a negative view towards children despite the majority being well behaved.

Of the more than 2,000 people questioned by ICM Research, 44% said young people were becoming feral.

Barnado's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said it was "depressing" so many were ready to give up on children.

The survey revealed that:

  • 49% agreed children are beginning to behave like animals
  • Almost 47% thought youngsters were angry, violent and abusive
  • One in four said those who behaved badly were beyond help by the age of 10
  • Whilst 36% thought children who get into trouble need help, 38% disagreed

The charity said many young people who end up in custody come from difficult backgrounds so, in order to prevent trouble, society first had to deal with their problems.

Barnardo's volunteer project worker Natasha Cripps, who commissioned the research, said the word "feral" indicated a complete desertion of young people.

'Scapegoat'

She told BBC Radio 5 live: "To call them feral means 'right that's it, I've given up' and I don't think you can ever give up on children.

"It's a real shame people are so dismissive of them now, and to use that word feral it's really quite scary.

"So many young people do positive things but they're not advertised because we live in a society where we do look at the negative side of things in every walk of life.

"So it's very easy to demonise young people and use them as a scapegoat for the social difficulties that we're having right now."

Barnardo's is launching a television advert called Life Story which shows the positive impact believing in a child can have on many troubled youngsters.

Chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: "What hope is there for childhood in the UK today if this is how adults think?

"We seem to have forgotten the fact that most children are well behaved and instead we are unquestionably accepting a stereotype of young people as criminal and revolting.

"We aren't asking people to put up with yobbish behaviour, but we do need to change our attitudes towards troubled children."

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