I’m very excited to have been asked be a campaign ambassador to help spread awareness of the Seriously Awkward Campaign. The Children’s Society have done some extensive research and these are some of their (very concerning) findings. I am a Mum of a 16 year old and these findings frighten me. To think that maybe he has been troubled by any of these things or perhaps his friends.
- The majority of parents feel life is harder today for teenagers than when they were young.
- One in three 16 and 17 year olds has faced sleepless nights due to worry in the last year.
- One in three 16 and 17 year olds frequently feel anxious and a quarter frequently feel sad.
- One in ten 16 and 17 year olds admit they feel pressure to do things that could leave them at risk such as taking drugs, drinking alcohol or spending time with people they don’t feel comfortable with.
- 70% of this age group do not describes themselves as ‘streetwise’
- Two thirds of 16 and 17 year olds feel judged just for being a teenager.
- The Children’s Society estimate that half a million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK face particular risk of harm because they are already dealing with issues such as poverty, poor health or a lack of supportive relationships.
- A teenager has to be under 16 to be protected by laws on child cruelty and neglect.
- Three quarters of parents believe 16 and 17 year olds are still children and should be protected from harm – but the law is dangerously inconsistent in this area.
As part of spreading awareness I decided to open up one of my teenage diaries *cringe* and write some excerpts from it.
1st October 1990
We are moving. I don’t want to. I wish my Mum and Dad were still together. We’re moving into my Mum’s boyfriends house. He’s nice but it’s not the same. What if everyone hates me there or I don’t make any new friends? I couldn’t stand it.
27th October 1990
We moved, it’s ok I suppose. I miss walking to school with my mates. I feel like I’m left out a bit. It’s stupid I know but I can’t help feeling a bit crap. Why do things have to change?
9th November 1991
I fancy Josh. He’s lush, he would never go out with me though. Trust me to be born ugly. Don’t think I’ll ever get a boyfriend. Why can’t I be pretty like Sarah? There’s always boys after her. It’s not fair.
1st March 1993
5 of us got called aside in registration at school Catherine took an overdose of paracetamol! We are all devastated. Why would she do that? We thought she was happy at school like the rest of us. There’s some bitches there but they don’t really bother us. We are all so sad because we don’t even know why. Why???????
4th March 1993
Went to see Catherine, she’s feeling a lot better. She said she has to see a psychiatrist to talk about her feelings. Asked her why she did it and she said she didn’t know .I sort of feel a bit pissed off that she did it for nothing but maybe she just doesn’t want to tell us the real reason. I hope she tells someone though. I couldn’t bear it if she tried again. I don’t know what to do or say and it’s sad and frustrating and just awful.
25th March 1993
Catherine is back at school. She says she’s got through 100 fags in 3 days. Jesus. My Mum will kill me if she finds out I smoke too. I don’t like it all that much but I don’t want everyone to think I’m square. The boys keep picking on her for taking an overdose. They are real dickheads. Why can’t they just leave her alone? What if they are that horrible they make her do it again?
Reading through this diary was hard and “seriously awkward” I’d forgotten some of these things even happened yet at the time it was like the world was ending. Teenagers aren’t a different species, they have feelings and worries and need support.
Please help by signing The Children’s Society petition calling on the Government to change the law to ensure 16 and 17 year olds are fully protected when they are at harm,abuse or neglect.
*All names have been changed to protect identities of those involved – these are real events as written in my diary as a teen*