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Children at risk talk 2010 (shorter)


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Children at risk talk 2010 (shorter)

  1. 1. Dr Neil de Reybekill Buckhurst Hill 6th February 2010 Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: Children at Risk in the 21st Century
  2. 2. <ul><li>For the last 30 years, as a teacher, tutor, researcher, lecturer, parent, mentor and friend, I have been fascinated by young people. </li></ul><ul><li>I am going to talk to you first about some children I worked with when, from 1990 to 1995, I was head of Handsworth Alternative School in Birmingham. I shall then say a little more about the risks that young people face today. </li></ul><ul><li>At HAS, our team of teachers, social workers and youth leaders worked with 12 and later 24 14-16 year olds each year. Our intake was about 2/3 boys. </li></ul><ul><li>In the five years I was in charge, 72 youngsters passed through our hands. That may not sound many, but they were some of the most difficult and damaged children in Birmingham. </li></ul><ul><li>They all had labels. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some labels said: knife-fighter, car thief, prostitute or glue-sniffer. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Others said: truant, violent, bipolar, early onset Huntingdon’s, depressive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All of them smoked or drank or smoked cannabis, given half a chance. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What were they like? They were each of them children - full of potential and contradictions. They were all some poor mother’s child… </li></ul><ul><li>Let me introduce you to some of them… </li></ul>1. Me & ‘My’ Kids
  3. 3. <ul><li>Simon Vale: was part of one of the dominant gang families. He had learning difficulties and was excluded from school at the age of 13. It was the end of a serious decline in his school performance. Aged 10, he was outside the local pub one Sunday morning with his Dad when his father was shot and killed with a sawn-off shotgun. I came across Simon when I was asked to look at his case to see what could have been done to have prevented his problems. Some time later I heard that Simon was already in gaol. </li></ul><ul><li>Karrie Green. Lived with Gran after Mum had left, unable to cope. Gran locked her metal-clad bedroom door so that Karrie wouldn’t steal from her to buy drugs. She would often disappear for spells of time without explanation. Later, brought back to Gran, she had been found soliciting on the streets of London. Long campaign to try to get social services to engage and help, but, after 14, they won't. They say they have more pressing issues to deal with. I don’t know whether she is still alive. </li></ul><ul><li>John Sutton was rowdy, racist, a bit of a thug. He was thickset, rather than big and a bit naïve. Good background. Parents together. Dad was a skilled mechanic with his own business. Upset that their boy had been kicked out of school. I saw him the other day. Senior mechanic with Kwikfit. 15 years employed. 10 years married. 4 children. </li></ul><ul><li>Jamie Hawthorne. Probably the brightest youngster I have worked with. His dad was just finishing a spell in prison and, uniquely for our kids, finishing a degree. Jamie never knew when to keep quiet, so he was always in bother. He was the only person to help the crew to sail our training sloop off the coast of East Anglia in a force 7 gale with 20 foot waves crashing around us in the middle of the night. Jamie barely lived to see his 21 st birthday. He was killed in a motorbike accident just a few weeks afterwards. </li></ul>2. Four Ordinary Children
  4. 4. 3. Media <ul><li>&quot;I do not recognise the picture of teenagers that is sometimes presented in sections of the media. I consider this misrepresentation to be extremely unhelpful and damaging&quot; 2008 Report by Sir Alan Steer on behaviour & schools. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ His bright blue eyes stare out at us beseechingly. A gorgeous, blond-haired, blue-eyed tot with a heart-melting smile’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Sun and Baby P, or Peter Connelly, as he will now never be known. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There has never been a more pertinent or timely point at which to talk about ‘children at risk’. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a discussion of ‘broken britain’, panic about knife crime and a wave of child murder. </li></ul><ul><li>One death is too many, of course. But the idea that we have suddenly had an upsurge of cases is untrue. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Teenage killings in UK drop 30% in one year” (BBC 23 Dec 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Newspapers are getting harder to sell. There is an election coming. Moral panics sell papers and harvest votes. You do the math. </li></ul><ul><li>There are risks that children face and pose but major violence is vanishingly rare and it is diminishing. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>In which decade was the first UK Child Guidance clinic set-up? (1920s, East End of London, psychiatrist Emanuel Miller, 1927) </li></ul><ul><li>On average, how much do 11-15 year old drinkers drink per week? (14 or 1.5 bottles: in North East 17.7 units of alcohol: 2 bottles of wine) </li></ul><ul><li>Is the number of children admitted to UK hospitals with alcohol related conditions rising or falling? (Falling: 12,832 down from 14,465) </li></ul><ul><li>Are the number of ‘grave crimes’ (such as the killing of Baby P and Jamie Bulger) rising or falling in the UK? (60, down from 100 in 1990s) </li></ul><ul><li>Is concern about violent crime falling or rising in UK? (Down 45% since 1997) </li></ul><ul><li>Are levels of truancy rising or falling in the UK? (Falling) </li></ul><ul><li>Are levels of childhood obesity rising or falling in the UK? (Rising but levelling off) </li></ul><ul><li>Is teenage alcohol consumption rising or falling? (Rising: tripled since 1990) </li></ul><ul><li>Which problematic social group was that first Child Guidance centre designed to serve? (Set up by Jewish Health Organisation - Jewish lads) </li></ul>4. Child’s Play
  6. 6. <ul><li>If Rousseau is said to have invented childhood, </li></ul><ul><li>the American Granville Stanley Hall invented adolescence, </li></ul><ul><li>1950s that teenage culture really came to the fore. </li></ul><ul><li>It was H all, in 1904, who coined the phrase &quot;storm and stress&quot; with reference to adolescence , </li></ul><ul><li>Its three key aspects are: conflict with parents, mood disruptions, and risky behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>I am sure that all of us will recognise these phases from our own families. </li></ul>5. Childhood and Adolescence
  7. 7. <ul><li>Children and Risk </li></ul><ul><li>We have seen how adolescents engage in risky behaviour as part of growing up. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are some who are hooked on the excitement of risk. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And there are those who are hooked on the anxiety it causes. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mad </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Daft: Challenging, acting out, confronting - being teenagers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Certifiably Mad - genuine mental health that should have been treated </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bad </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Criminalisation of a previously tolerated misdemeanour (hooky, mitching etc) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Really evil? No. Really criminal? Yes. Some will spend most of their lives in prison. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sad </li></ul><ul><ul><li>internalising mental health / emotionally vulnerable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>eating disorders, self harm, depression </li></ul></ul><ul><li>CAD </li></ul><ul><ul><li>conscious active decision-maker: rational choices </li></ul></ul>6. Mad, Bad & Dangerous
  8. 8. 7.1 Children at Risk <ul><li>Children at Risk </li></ul><ul><li>1400 deaths among children aged 0-14 every year in UK. </li></ul><ul><li>Very young children - almost all disease. By 16, 40% avoidable injuries </li></ul><ul><li>Taking risks and sensation seeking is part of adolescence. </li></ul><ul><li>It is a normal part of growing-up, but it comes at a cost. </li></ul><ul><li>Children and Risk </li></ul><ul><li>This is a very risk averse culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Without childhood risk, we cannot judge risk safely as an adult. </li></ul><ul><li>Without gardens, parks & fields, we don’t build up our immune system. </li></ul><ul><li>Reasonable risk is the grit in the system that gives us our pearls. </li></ul><ul><li>Childhood at Risk </li></ul><ul><li>We degrade childhood and remove innocence earlier, </li></ul><ul><li>We infantilise: increase dependence </li></ul><ul><li>Childhood longer and more full of material ‘things’, </li></ul><ul><li>Emptier of spontaneous creative play and informal outdoor experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer deaths, but bereavement in family breakdown high. </li></ul><ul><li>Too little said of trauma associated with family breakdown. </li></ul>
  9. 9. 7.2 Children at Risk (Cont) <ul><li>Children as Risk </li></ul><ul><li>As we get older, we are less nimble, we are less able to stand up for ourselves </li></ul><ul><li>Threatened by rowdy, energetic, testosterone fuelled teenagers. </li></ul><ul><li>Backed into corners, neither party wants to lose face. </li></ul><ul><li>Normal animal behaviour - occasional & really irritating but not a national risk. </li></ul><ul><li>Children Facing Risk </li></ul><ul><li>We need to differentiate between media sensation and what ordinary children are most likely to encounter. </li></ul><ul><li>Media demons: Drink, Drugs, Knives, Guns, Smoking </li></ul><ul><li>Reality: Accidents in the Home, Vehicle accidents, Bullying, Obesity, Mental Health, Sporting Injuries </li></ul>
  10. 10. 8. Youth Crime <ul><li>a) Most measures of crime have come down </li></ul><ul><li>The risk of becoming a victim of crime has fallen sharply in recent years. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2008 22% suffered crime in last year. 1995 40% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Woundings fell by 42% between 1997 & 2009 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Anxiety about crime is down </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Worry about violent crime has fallen 45% since 1997. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But </li></ul><ul><li>b) Young adults commit more crime & are more likely to be victims of crime than anyone else </li></ul><ul><li>e) Girls are becoming more criminal </li></ul><ul><li>Young men convicted or cautioned has fallen since 2000, </li></ul><ul><li>Number of Girls aged 12-17 is rising. </li></ul><ul><li>f) Ethnicity </li></ul><ul><li>In 2008, 2400 youngsters aged 15-17 held in custody. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnic minorities more likely custodial sentence for the same offence. </li></ul><ul><li>Also true of remanding – MEG seen as a greater risk. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to make justice blind. Skin colour, accent or ethnicity should not determine sentence. </li></ul>
  11. 11. 9. Child Health <ul><li>Smoking Falling </li></ul><ul><li>Following ban on smoking, 15 year old ‘regular smokers’ has fallen </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2007, 19% of girls and 12% of boys regular smokers by 15. (2005: 25% & 16%) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Childhood Obesity </li></ul><ul><li>Prevalence of obesity in children may be levelling off. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2006, 33% of 15 yo boys and 44% of girls ate fruit daily. (2002, 22% & 28%) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Drugs </li></ul><ul><li>Drug use among children rising </li></ul><ul><ul><li>U.16s DRHA 2008 1,241, 42% increase on 97 (868) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6% young adults took cocaine in last year </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>42% of 15yo boys admit taking illegal drugs - 32% in past year </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Differences </li></ul><ul><li>Girls’ health risk behaviours deteriorating. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Higher rates of smoking, high rates of drinking & lower rates of exercise & physical activity. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need our children to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. </li></ul><ul><li>Need more physical activity in schools: 2 hours of PE per week isn’t enough. </li></ul>
  12. 12. 10. Alcohol <ul><li>ARHA - Adults </li></ul><ul><li>o 26% of UK adults have an alcohol use disorder (Harmful, Hazardous or Dependent). </li></ul><ul><li>o UK alcohol use doubled. Deaths from liver cirrhosis mirror this (Lancet 07.01.06) </li></ul><ul><li>o UK ARHA rates in region of 2% of the adult population. </li></ul><ul><li>ARHA - Children </li></ul><ul><li>o In 2008/09, under-age ARHA 12,832: (2007/08 14,501) </li></ul><ul><li>o One child U.12 ARHA every 48 hrs. In 2008, 181 as young as 8 </li></ul><ul><li>o Children aged 11 to 15 in the North East who are drinkers consume 17.7 units on average - almost two bottles of wine or almost eight pints of lager. </li></ul><ul><li>o Boys in the North East consumed most, at 20.2 units week, girls drink 15.5 units. </li></ul><ul><li>o More than doubling of 11-15 year olds alcohol consumption (1990) </li></ul><ul><li>o Levels of drunkenness among British U.13s highest in Europe. </li></ul><ul><li>Child to Adult </li></ul><ul><li>Heavy drinking children damage brain development </li></ul><ul><li>Girls more likely to fall pregnant - FAS - next generation… </li></ul><ul><li>Need to redefine licensing and re-price different types of alcohol </li></ul>
  13. 13. 11. Employment, Education & Training <ul><li>Gap between rich and poor in UK is as wide now as it was 40 years ago ( National Equality Panel; 29.01.10) </li></ul><ul><li>1.8 million children and young people in the UK live in workless households </li></ul><ul><li>In 2007, 66% of girls and 58% of boys gained GCSEs at A-C grade. </li></ul><ul><li>Variation by ethnic group. 85% of Chinese vs 62% of White British girls. </li></ul><ul><li>Unemployment for 16-24 year olds has risen substantially since 2004. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The numbers not in education, employment or training (NEETs) remain stubbornly high </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In 2007, 180,000 of 16-18 were NEET: has fallen since 2005 but still higher than 2001 low. </li></ul><ul><li>Expansion has degraded university education. We risk losing diamonds in our search for gold. </li></ul><ul><li>University is not right for everyone and we cannot provide high T&L standards in uni for 50% of the school leaver population. </li></ul><ul><li>There is merit (& more money) in a good technical and business training. Need more good quality training in colleges and many more modern apprenticeship places. </li></ul>
  14. 14. 12. Parenting <ul><li>Director of Barnardoes, Martin Narey, recently critiscised for pointing-out that Baby P – given what we know about victimised and abused young men - might well have become a 'feral and violent youngster' in turn had he lived. </li></ul><ul><li>2008 Sir Alan Steer Report on young people, behaviour and education. Blamed greedy, lazy and violent parents and recommended more support for parenting and for traditional discipline. </li></ul><ul><li>We know that children who are sexually or physically abused, with abusive or absent fathers and depressive, alcoholic or mentally ill mothers, are those most likely to be psychotic or seriously criminal. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to end non-judgmental approaches to the family. Being a single parent isn’t easy, I know - I have been one, but it should not be a lifestyle choice. </li></ul><ul><li>Having a single parent, is a major risk factor for all sorts of life problems in the next generation. </li></ul><ul><li>Children thrive in stable happy families. We need to keep families together and we need to intervene earlier in chaotic single parent families. </li></ul>
  15. 15. 13. A Parallel Universe? <ul><li>Coming to this work new, it is the high incidence of death and loss that is so startling. The rest you are used-to - divorce, deprivation, crime, antagonism to authority - but the sheer numbers of bereaved children is telling. </li></ul><ul><li>Workers in the field will talk about these children growing up in a ‘parallel universe’ not just the poverty, but a total disconnect from the values and drivers of mainstream society. </li></ul><ul><li>Britain's young adults are polarised between a university generation and a NEET generation. </li></ul><ul><li>While three times as many go to university as did in the 1970s, 1 in 6 are trapped outside of education, employment or training </li></ul><ul><li>Long term joblessness risks the creation of a permanent underclass. </li></ul><ul><li>Intergenerational unemployment already exists and with it repeating patterns of poor health, teenage motherhood, youth criminality and early death. </li></ul><ul><li>Jobs save lives. In this recession, we still need measures to break the culture of intergenerational unemployment that leads to that parallel universe. </li></ul>
  16. 16. 14. Combining Risk Factors <ul><li>1. Risk Factors </li></ul><ul><li>In medicine, the use of risk factors to aid diagnosis is common. </li></ul><ul><li>The greater the number of combinant risk factors for certain conditions, the greater the likelihood it is the problem. You get the picture? </li></ul><ul><li>This is also true of social forces and their impact on children </li></ul><ul><li>Kandyce Larson Pediatrics 2008 Huge study of 102,353 parents in US </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The more risk factors (ethnicity, neighbourhood, maternal depression) the greater the risk of poor health outcomes. This is true for mental health & employment status. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Income </li></ul><ul><li>Labour market economist Stephen Machin (1999) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“… disadvantage in the childhood years has effects long into adult life that spillover to the next generation.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Having parents with low income while growing up is a strong disadvantage in terms of labour market success & contributes importantly to adult joblessness and … crime.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Class or SES driver not ethnicity (Ethnicity may make you a target for prejudice: MEGs more likely to be remanded or sentenced to prison) SES puts you in dock </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed race kids more likely with single parent, low income, commit serious crime </li></ul><ul><li>3. Profiling </li></ul><ul><li>Need to use risk factors to target resources, profiling to intervene earlier and save lives . </li></ul>
  17. 17. 15. Summary <ul><li>Children take risks sometimes, but risk is an essential part of growing up </li></ul><ul><li>We need to be media savvy about youth crime. (Bad news sells papers!) </li></ul><ul><li>Youth crime is falling and crime rates are down but need to make justice blind. </li></ul><ul><li>Smoking is falling and obesity stabilising but alcohol and drug use are growing. </li></ul><ul><li>We need to eat more fresh fruit n veg and to take more exercise. </li></ul><ul><li>We need seriously to re-think alcohol licensing and pricing. </li></ul><ul><li>Jobs save lives. In this recession we still have to break the culture of intergenerational unemployment in that parallel universe. </li></ul><ul><li>Numbers of NEET are rising. We need more jobs for school-leavers, good quality training in colleges and many more modern apprenticeship places. </li></ul><ul><li>All our youngsters longed for a stable happy family. As a rule those that had them survived. We need to keep families together and we need to intervene earlier in chaotic single parent families. </li></ul><ul><li>We know a great deal about families at risk. We need to use combinant risk factors to profile, target resources & intervene earlier to save lives. </li></ul><ul><li>A child at risk is just that: quite literally some..poor..mother’s child… </li></ul>
  18. 18. Any Questions?