British children being demonised

November 17th, 2008 - 4:11 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 17 (IANS) A third of adults think British children behave like animals, revealing a perception that experts say is at odds with reality.A YouGov poll for a children’s charity has found that 49 percent of adults regard children as dangerous to each other and to their elders, while 43 percent feel that “something has to be done” to protect society from children and young people.

More than a third of the 2,000 adults who were interviewed for Barnardo’s charity agreed that “it feels like the streets are infested with children”.

The poll comes amid increasing knife and gun crime involving children in London and other big cities and towns of Britain, but Barnardo’s chief Martin Narey said the findings were more reflective of perception than reality.

“It is appalling that words like ‘animal’, ‘feral’ and ‘vermin’ are used daily in reference to children. These are not references to a small minority of children, but represent the public view of all children,” Narey said.

“Despite the fact that most children are not troublesome, there is still a perception that today’s young people are a more unruly, criminal lot than ever before. The British public overestimates, by a factor of four, the amount of crime committed by young people,” he added.

Barnardo’s said in reality, most young Britons lead trouble-free lives and many contribute positively to society. Half of 16- to 19-year-olds help informally in their communities and a third do formal voluntary work.

The charity says that children who become involved in criminal activity come from the most deprived families, have the poorest education and are more likely to suffer from poor health.

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