Experiences of Childhood Safety - New Report
30 June 2008 at 3:48 pm
A new report by the Australian Childhood Foundation and Child Abuse Research Australia outlines significant safety concerns faced by Australian children in 2008.
Called Children’s sense of safety: children’s experiences of childhood in contemporary Australia, the report draws on responses from 600 children aged between 10-14 years from an online survey conducted by Quantum Market Research.
More than a quarter of the children in the sample were actively concerned that they might be hurt by an adult (28%) or become a victim of crime (27%). One in five (19%) of those surveyed expressed a degree of anxiety about children not being protected from abuse.
Over half of the children in the sample reported feeling worried about being bullied (57%), teased (54%) and not fitting in with their peers (52%).
The internet, in particular, is perceived as a new source of anxiety and threat for a large number of children and young people. 46% of children reported that they had been exposed to material on the internet which worried them. 27% are worried about the dangers they face over the internet.
The findings suggested that even though on the surface the vast majority of children surveyed believe that Australia is a good place to grow up in, many of them reflect an undercurrent of worry and concern for their own safety and the protection of other children.
The report says that children also feel unsafe in their local environment. Overall, 2 in 5 children surveyed felt unsafe in public places, such as shopping centres, cinemas, sporting grounds and walking to school.
Just over a quarter of children (27%) were anxious about catching public transport. In each of these findings, a substantial proportion of girls felt more unsafe than boys. In addition, half of the children (51%) surveyed felt that children their age were not made to feel welcome by adults in public places. 1 in 8 children surveyed wanted better spaces for children to be engaged in childhood activities.
Critically the report says these fears are further amplified because many children feel disconnected from adults whom they perceive not to believe them, listen and take into account their views or respect them. 29% of children hold the view that adults would not believe children if they disclosed abuse to them.
Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation says in the report that it is only when children feel safe in the relationships with important adults that they are able to experience a broader sense of safety in the world around them.
He says it is incumbent on all adults to make these whispers of fear more audible. It is a commitment that will enable us to tune into children, understand their vulnerabilities and better ensure their safety.
Download the report at: http://www.childhood.org.au/downloads/Childrens%20sense%20of%20safety%202008.pdf