More than one in seven of the country’s Year 10 students are neglected in some way by their parents or guardians, a new study suggests
The findings of the Children’s Society Troubled Teens report are “deeply worrying” and confirm the importance of parental care and support for the well-being of the UK’s youth, the organisation’s chief executive Matthew Reed says.
The research involved about 2,000 12- to 15-year-olds who took part in an online survey in 72 schools across the country.
Children were asked to rate how often their parents or guardians showed an interest in their schooling, supported them if they were upset and took care of them if they fell ill, among other topics.
The study showed more than one in seven Year 10 students (15%) reported living with adult caregivers who neglected them in one or more ways – a statistic that equates to, on average, three students per classroom.
It stated that 58% experienced one form of neglect in isolation, with almost half this group indicating a lack of adequate supervision.
The study concluded: “(Caregivers) may have shown little or no interest in them, not offered warmth or encouragement, made no effort to monitor or protect them, or failed to promote their health.
“Neglected young people reported lower well-being and a higher propensity than their peers to behaving in ways which may jeopardise their health or their prospects.”
Researchers also measured the effect of different types of neglect and found youths who reported emotional neglect were more than twice as likely to have recently skipped school or got drunk than those whose emotional needs were met.
The study also showed children who reported multiple types of neglect had “significantly worse levels of well-being” than those who experienced one particular form.
Conversely, the report said the strongest links were between frequent emotional support by parents and high well-being for teenagers.
Mr Reed said: “It is deeply worrying that so many teenagers in this country are suffering neglect.
“No child should be left feeling that no one cares about them.”
The report recommended front line workers in fields such as education, health and youth justice services receive training to improve their grasp of the issue of adolescent neglect.
Greater support for adolescents via online advice resources and services was also needed, the report added.
It also called for national policy to be altered and local service provision boosted to help families provide for teenagers given the “majority of universal parenting programmes” in the UK were geared towards parents of younger children.
“By putting changes like these in place, we can start to make real headway towards reducing the impact that adolescent neglect has in England today,” the report concluded.
The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs services helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable.