LETTER: Show we believe in young people

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We face an urgent imperative to help the UK’s young people. More than ever, we have a generation of youngsters in crisis.

Barnardo’s research reveals an astonishing 87 per cent of under-18s lack confidence in the South East. This figure is supported by the Young Women’s Trust who recently revealed 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. Nationally, we have witnessed a 30 per cent 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 last week of our Ten Year Strategy. We already work with 248,000 young people and their families, but over the next ten 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.

Some 66 per cent of adults we spoke to in the South East said they just ‘aren’t very good’ at telling youngsters they believe in them. This has to change.

Jonathan Whalley

Director, Barnardo’s South-East and Anglia Region, Tanners Lane, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex, IG6 1QG

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