Last week my teenager had his heart broken for the first time.
I saw him standing in the street waiting for his girlfriend to meet him, holding the peace offering of chocolate while he waited to find out what he had done wrong.
She never came, she never told him, it was just one of those things.
Back home we gave him a bit of space, and he cried, and then we hugged him, reassuring that all would be well.
And when he asked for a Pot Noodle we knew he would be fine.
Our boy has a family, support when he needs it, but what about the teenagers who don’t, not everyone deals with a ‘broken heart’ in the same way.
A vulnerable Teenager can be misled, can turn to the wrong person and mistake their attention for caring, they fall into the cracks between childhood and adulthood, they don’t have the same protection as children and are being let down by the law.
The #seriouslyawkward campaign by The Children’s Society want to change this by petitioning the Government.
Here are some of the most interesting findings from our research report. We want to challenge the perception of teenagers as resilient or streetwise, and lift the lid on how many teenagers feel – especially those most at risk:
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’
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.
Sign the Petition and help make changes
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.
I agree with the finding that the majority of parents feel life is harder today for teenagers than when they were young, do you?