Further developments in the public perception of young people debate | Belfast and Beyond | 28 Nov 2008 | Amnesty International UK

Further developments in the public perception of young people debate

In an earlier blog I called for an end to the vilification of young people, highlighting a You Gov poll commissioned by Barnardo’s which quoted some pretty shocking findings in relation to young people. From the comments I realised there had been some solid criticism of the Barnardo’s survey instrument, which in turn showed the need for a more measured, less tabloid approach to quoting public opinion concerning young people.

For those of you who didn’t catch newsnight yesterday, Barnardo’s have once again entered into this debate.  This time with a remarkable interview given by their Chief Executive Martin Neary in which he appeared to suggest that the abuse suffered by the child victim of violence, Baby P, almost certainly would have resulted in Baby P becoming abusive or feral himself had he survived his injuries.

Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler provided an array of professional opinions and research findings to suggest that the majority of young people who suffered abuse actually have enough resilience to avoid becoming abusers themselves.

To be fair when questioned in newsnight, Neary did attempt to defuse the issue pointing out that he actually said Baby P was likely to become unruly rather than abusive; however, the disturbing use of baby P in the interview when combined with recent hard-hitting advertisements has left Barnardo’s open to criticism of being deliberately provocative.This has in turn ensured there is a real danger that the big hitting headlines which are coming with this issue are masking a really important message.  

It was left to Camila Batmanghelidjh of Kids Company to deliver this message and provide the balance that this debate so badly requires. Speaking convincingly and with authority, Batmanghelidjh pointed out that abuse does in many ways lead to abuse, whether that be against others, or just as importantly, against the self. For this reason, Batmanghelidjh explained, it is important we should not get away from the important issue here, i.e. that many children are being subjected to abuse on a daily basis and are not being protected by our social structures.

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