#SeriouslyAwkward – At 16 were you safe?

You may or may not have heard of The Children’s Society, it’s okay if you haven’t I will leave all the links below so you can read up, get involved and make a difference in a teenagers life. I see a lot of bloggers posting about their teenage so maybe this will even hit home with some of you.

I remember being 16 and lying face down in the road after I had just been kicked in the face. I had been kicked in the face after being repeatedly punch in the face by a few girls in my year at school. The following day my eye was a bright purple, and I had a graze on my chin. That type of thing was not uncommon in my school. I remember another occasion when I was stood in the quad and suddenly one of my friends, make, walked up to another and began to beat him. He hit him so hard in the stomach his feet flew from the floor and he landed with a thud. At the time in the morning it took a while before any one came to break it up. The worst thing about this is that most of us were from stable home environments. I also knew one girl who had a bad family home. She was more violent that the rest of them; than the rest of us. She was a little bit older that us too, and because she was so intimidating, they followed her lead.

She came into school with vodka in her water bottle, a spliff in her coat and within one period she was excluded for three days. When she returned, she was subdued and bruised. Not for long. A rumour went round that when she went home, her dad beat her and she had run away. She ran away to her older boyfriends house for a few days. She was covered in love bites too. I remember at the time, thinking that she needed to talk to someone. We know that, even at that age you need to tell someone. But who? Who do you tell? Who really gives a shit?

During 6th form, I had art class with some of my best mates, most of the rest of my age group had left school and I wouldn’t ever see them again. A few of us stayed. We had a few new additions to our 6th form too. One of which was an indian girl who didn’t really speak English very well. She was quiet and keep herself to herself a lot. During art we got to swap books and draw something for the other person. She got mine and I got hers. When we swapped back I had drawn a Lily, with a cut out close up. She had drawn a lot of geometrics and abstract in mine, in all the shapes was what I assumed to be a Swastika . I was outraged. She had defiled my book. Then I noticed the dots, it meant luck, then I noticed the many other tiny peace signs in my book. She had drawn a picture of her version of peace and luck; for me. We never spoke, we just carried passing each other like strangers.

A few weeks later we were assembled in the common room. We were told that she had taken an overdose. Even worse she had slowly died over the space of a week, because she had taken so many paracetamol. Her mum, couldn’t dial 999 because she wasn’t aware of that number as she hadn’t been in the country long. Instead she had ran from her home all the way to the school (about 3 miles) for help after finding her daughter unconscious. As it turns out she was being bullied by her uncles here and decided to take matters into her own hands.

16 and 17 can be scary years, they can be very difficult times. The balance between finding yourself and finding yourself in some serious trouble is thin. The relationships you think are safe can change, teenagers tend to cut themselves off too. We all know they can ‘take care of themselves’, but can they?

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You might think you will be able to control these things for your child, but so did our parents. Here are some interesting findings for you:

  • 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.

Did you know that at 17 children aren’t protected as children OR treated as an adult. The issues that this can cause are far reaching and life changing. Just because they are little older, does;t mean they aren’t at risk. If you parent teenagers you will have heard stories of ‘so and so’s’ mum or dad, how hard they have it at home or how promiscuous Martha is down the road, but do you ever stop to think why, or how to help?

Probably not.

The most vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds are often in grave danger, facing hidden harm. They are more likely to go missing or be victims of violent crime than any other age.

In particular, the Government should:

1. Raise the age of a victim of child cruelty and neglect from 16 to 18, so 16 and 17 year olds living at home have the same protection as younger children

2. Amend housing laws to ensure that 16 and 17 year olds at risk of homelessness can never be evicted from their accommodation and become ‘intentionally homeless’

3. Raise the age for Child Abduction Warning Notices from 16 to 18, to ensure that the police can intervene where vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds are targeted by predatory adults for the purposes of exploitation, either of a sexual or criminal nature.

If you think that this is unacceptable, if you want to make a change, if you want to protect children and extend that to the day they hit 18 then please, take a moment to click this link Seriously Awkward and sign the petition.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/childrensociety
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/childrenssociety?fref=ts
Website: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk

Zara

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