We face an urgent imperative to help the UK’s young people.
More than ever, we have a generation of youngsters in crisis. Recent Barnardo’s research reveals an astonishing 88% of under 18s lack confidence. This figure is supported by the Young Women’s Trust who also revealed this week that a generation of young women ‘wracked by anxiety, lack of confidence and despair.’ Increasingly we are seeing that ‘youthful optimism’ no longer exists.
This epidemic of low confidence and limited self-belief holds young people back from future success, but there is a more disturbing issue that we are also addressing. The abuse, and in particular, sexual abuse of children and young people by their peers. We have witnessed a 30% increase for our Child Sexual Exploitation Services in the past year alone and dealt with more than 9,000 referrals in the past two.
This increasing demand for our services is the backdrop for the launch of our Ten Year Strategy. We already work with 248,000 young people and their families, but over the next 10 years, we must increase this to meet the needs of millions more.
Barnardo’s has been providing services for 150 years, and will continue to be there for young people for as long as it takes. But this is a national responsibility that goes beyond formal organisations like ours. We all have a duty to show young people that we believe in them and will support them. 65% of adults we spoke to said they just ‘aren’t very good’ at telling youngsters they believe in them. This has to change.