young people

Growing up in Scotland: life at age 12

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This report presents some initial findings about the lives of 12-year-old children living in Scotland. It uses data collected from Birth Cohort 1 (BC1) of the Growing Up in Scotland study (GUS). GUS is an important longitudinal research project aimed at tracking the lives of Scottish children from birth, through their childhood, into adolescence and beyond. The study is funded by the Scottish Government and carried out by ScotCen Social Research.

BC1 is comprised of a nationally representative sample of 5217 children living in Scotland when they were 10 months old and who were born between June 2004 and May 2005. This report draws on data collected from 3419 families in 2017/18 when the children were aged 12 and most were in the second term of their first year at secondary school. Both data from interviews with parents and children themselves is used.

The report covers, in brief, several varied aspects of children’s lives including:

  • Experience of school and educational aspirations
  • Relationships with parents and peers
  • Social media and use of the internet
  • Involvement in risky behaviour
  • Healthy weight and perceptions of body weight
  • Life satisfaction

For each of these areas, the experiences of boys and girls are compared. Some comparisons are also made between children living in the most and least deprived areas in Scotland and also between children whose parents have different educational qualifications. Relationships between some of the types of experiences themselves are also explored. Only differences which were statistically significant at the 95% level are commented on in the text.

More information about the study is available on the Growing up in Scotland website.

Coordinated support for child poverty

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The Scottish Government announced it was bringing forward a new Scottish Child Payment, worth £10 per week per eligible child under six, with the aim of lifting 30,000 children out of poverty by 2023-24. COSLA welcomed the news. In addition, a new Access to Childcare Fund will establish new projects across Scotland to deliver more affordable out-of-school care for low income families over a two-year period starting in April 2020.

Funding has also been confirmed for councils and charities to give children from low income families meals and a place to play during the school holidays. Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) will deliver this ‘Food and Fun’ programme locally working in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, AFC Community Trust, Sport Aberdeen and others. (Source: Scot Gov)

 

A Ticking Timebomb?

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China was the Global Nutrition Report’s star performer. It was one of only two countries (the other being South Korea) that posted levels of stunting, women’s anaemia and overweight adults that were all below indications of a very serious public health risk.

China’s numbers are staggering. In the past 10 years GDP per capita has tripled, mortality rates for the under-fives have declined from 37 per 1,000 to 14, and the percentage of the under-fives who are short for their age has declined from 22% to 9%.

But how long will China remain the star performer?

Of great concern in the future are the rapid increases in overweight and obesity in China. While the rates of overweight adults in China are less than half the rates of the UK (and the rates of obesity are about a fifth of the UK’s), the rates for children less than 20 years of age are much closer.

It is this body-mass time bomb that is the most worrying aspect of China’s nutrition status. High body-mass is a risk factor for a range of diseases such as diabetes and some forms of heart disease.

Will we see UK–level rates of obesity in these adults in China in 15 years’ time?

But it is not too late. China has the opportunity and the means to show the rest of the world how to slow and reverse the apparent tsunami of obesity. It has the opportunity because the problem is not yet unmanageable and its economy is strong. This generates policy possibilities. It has the means, because of the strong ability of the state to shape the environment to make healthy choices easier and more likely.

And make no mistake about it  the world needs China to succeed. Obese people tend to consume more of the types of foods that have a higher carbon footprint such as meat, sugar and dairy. There are diets  vegetarian, Mediterranean and pescetarian for example  that are healthier for the planet and for humans. China needs to draw on traditional eating habits and move towards its own 21st century version of a healthier diet  we all have a stake in that.

 

Thank you for your support to end child poverty

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If you haven’t already seen them, have a look at these animations. Talented students from the London College of Communication interpreted children’s experiences of poverty and made some very powerful short films. They show clearly why we’re needed, and why your support is so important.

Child Poverty Action Group

Are social media companies ‘failing young people’ on cyberbullying?

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Social media companies’ failure to tackle cyberbullying is putting the mental health of children and young people at risk, warns an inquiry from MPs and leading children’s charities.

Worryingly for parents, almost two thirds of (63%) of young people surveyed by the enquiry who had been cyberbullied said that they would not tell their parents if they experienced something upsetting online.

So, what can we do about it?

Cyberbullying takes many forms; persistent unwanted messaging, threats, sharing embarrassing photos. The report highlights the addictive nature of social media: one in ten (9%) young people surveyed admitted logging on after midnight every night and one young person said it was “almost like a drug”. Young people giving evidence to the inquiry described feeling judged and inadequate if they didn’t have enough likes or followers.

Young people who are the heaviest users of social media in all its forms are most likely to have low well-being and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Links between self-harm, suicide and cyberbullying have already been established by academics. Currently there are no rules requiring social media to protect young people from cyberbullying.

There are calls for social media companies and government to act, working together to resolve these issues. Parents have a role to play, raising awareness of online dangers and knowing what/who children are connecting with online. Perhaps most importantly knowing there are many ways of getting help to get the cyber bullying to stop. The following links can help;

respectme, support for Services

Childline telephone support for children and young people.

A National Approach to Anti-Bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People

Parentline a national, confidential helpline providing advice for parents

Cyberbullying – Safe to Learn: Embedding anti-bullying work in schools.

Advice for parents on bullying

Work experience – Love It or Loath It?

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New research of UK teenagers has revealed that an overwhelming majority (83%) would like work experience to be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

The research by the Career Colleges Trust also found that more than two thirds (67%) of today’s teenagers believe work experience is beneficial for finding employment, seeing what working in a certain sector is like (63%) and more than half (56%) believe it allows you to learn valuable skills that are not taught in the classroom.

Today in Scotland, the work experience concept remains in place and there is an expectation that all pupils will have the opportunity to participate. For most mainstream secondary schools this takes the form of a one week work placement organised during a pupil’s 4th year.

So why is work experience such a good thing?

ONE…

In at number one: young people are more likely to be successful in their job hunt if they have done some good work experience. Fact.

Want some evidence? Well, over half of the graduate recruiters that took part in a recent research study by Highfliers said that, “graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.”

TWO…

If you haven’t got a clue what career you want to do, work experience is a perfect way to sample all the career options out there. It’s a way of exploring different jobs without actually committing to anything. You can dip your toe in the water without taking the full plunge.

THREE…

It’s the best way to get a real sense of your chosen industry. You’ll get to speak to employees and ask them questions. You won’t know what it’s like until you get closer to the action.

FOUR…

Doing work experience shows passion and interest. Evidence that you have done work experience shows the employer that you are motivated to get into a chosen career and that you’ve done your homework.

FIVE…

If you’re floundering about and frankly aren’t that bothered about your career, work experience might just be the kick up the backside you need. If you do a variety of different work placements, you might find something you are passionate about and get motivated.

SIX…

Work experience gently introduces you to the world of work. You get to learn the dos and don’ts, get work place savvy and learn to navigate your way through the jungle of office politics. Vitally, it’ll give you an idea of the skills you might need to thrive in the workplace.

SEVEN…

It’ll help you identify your own skills and perhaps even highlight the areas that you might want to work on.

EIGHT…

You might wow them so much that you’ll manage to wrangle yourself a job!

NINE…

It’s all about networking. It’ll help you build up contacts and, you never know, they might even give you a heads up about a future job or recommend you to another company.

TEN…

And yes, work experience does give you something to put on your CV!

 

 

Youth Loneliness

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You’re not supposed to feel lonely while you’re young, but the truth is it’s a bigger concern among young people than any other age group.

In recent years youth loneliness and isolation has been increasingly identified as a matter of significant public concern. Research identifies that one in three young people suffer from loneliness (Red Cross, Co-op, Kantar, 2016) and 65% of 16-25 years old reporting feeling loneliness at times and 32% feeling lonely “often” or “all the time” (Majoribanks and Bradley, 2017).

“Loneliness is a recognised problem among the elderly – there are day centres and charities to help them,” says Sam Challis, an information manager at the mental health charity Mind, “but when young people reach 21 they’re too old for youth services.”

But what can young people do to combat loneliness? 

While meditation techniques such as mindfulness and apps such as Headspace are trendy solutions frequently recommended for a range of mental health problems, they’re not necessarily helpful for loneliness, as they actively encourage us to dwell alone on our thoughts. You’re be better off addressing the underlying causes of being lonely first – what’s stopping you going out and seeing people?

Social media can be helpful. Helplines can also reduce loneliness, at least in the short term. One in four men who call the Samaritans mention loneliness or isolation, and Get Connected is a free confidential helpline for young people, where they can seek help with emotional and mental health issues often linked to loneliness. There are also support services on websites such as Mind’s that can remind you you’re not alone. Speak to your employer, value the interactions you have in the workplace. Counselling can be helpful. The BACP website allows you to search for counsellors in your area. “A problem aired is a problem shared and sometimes you need to talk to someone impartial and independent of your friends and family.

If recent research is to be believed, loneliness is killing the elderly and, with an ageing population, we should aim to reduce our isolation before it is too late. “Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting lonelier,” says Ruth Sutherland, the chief executive of Relate, in a new report. “But much of this rests on laying the foundations to good-quality relationships earlier in life.”