CHILDREN, FAMILY AND YOUNG PEOPLE
there are almost 15 million children and young people
up to the age of 19. This represents almost a quarter
of the UK population. Young people are considered
to be a group with their own identity, interests,
and fashions that in some ways distinguish them from
older people. Generally speaking, once they reach
adulthood, children tend to move away from the family
home, but this varies from one family and one community
to another. Most children in Britain
receive weekly pocket money from their parents, and
many get more for doing jobs around the house.
today in the UK
do not play outside the home as much as they did in
the past. Home entertainment, such as television,
videos, and computers, are seen as part of the reason
for this, but so also is an increased concern for
children's safety. Incidents of child molestation
by strangers are often reported in great detail, but
there is no evidence that dangers of this kind are
a result of changing attitudes towards divorce and
separation, family patterns in Britain
have also changed considerably in the last 20 years.
Today while 65 per cent of children live with both
birth parents, almost 25 per cent live in lone parent
families, and 10 per cent live within a step family.
Government places great importance on the need to
assess and test pupils in order to know what they
have achieved. Compulsory testing takes place at the
ages of seven, eleven and fourteen in England
(but not in Wales where more
informal methods of assessment are favoured).
These tests help to give parents a good indication
of their children's progress and children know the
subjects they are doing well and those that need extra
young people take GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary
Education) examinations at sixteen, and many take
vocational qualifications, A/S and A levels (Advanced
levels), at seventeen and eighteen.
in three young people now move onto higher education
after school. The Government aim is to reach one in
two. Of those that do, some defer their university
entrance by taking a year out. This often includes
periods doing voluntary work, traveling overseas,
or earning money to pay for fees and living expenses
is now common for young people to have a part-time
job whilst they are still at school. Recent estimates
suggest that there are two million children at work
at any one time. The most common jobs are newspaper
delivery and work in supermarkets and newsagents.
Many parents believe that part-time work of this kind
helps children to become more independent, as well
as providing them (and sometimes their family) with
is important to note, however, that the employment
of children is strictly controlled by law, and that
there are concerns for the safety of children who
work illegally or are not properly supervised.
parents in Britain worry
that their children may misuse addictive substances
and drugs in some way.
Cigarette consumption in Britain
has fallen significantly and now only a minority of
the population smoke. Restrictions are planned against
smoking in public places. Smoking has declined amongst
young people as well as adults, although statistics
show that girls smoke more than boys. Tobacco, bylaw,
should not be sold to anyone under the age of 16.
abuse is a problem. Although young people below the
age of 18 are not allowed by law to buy alcohol, there
is concern in Britain over the age at which some young
people start drinking, and the amount of alcohol that
they consume in one session or "binge", Increasing
penalties including on-the-spot fines are being introduced
to help control this.
drugs are illegal drugs. It is an offence in Britain to possess, produce, or supply
substances such as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines,
and cannabis. However, current statistics indicate
that half of young adults, and about a third of the
population as awhile, have used illegal drugs at one
time or another -
sometimes only as an experiment.
is a well-established link between the use of hard
drugs (eg crack cocaine
and heroin) and crime, and it is widely accepted that
drug misuse carries a huge social and financial cost
to the country. Much crime, such as burglary or stealing
in the Street by threat or violence (called mugging)
is associated with wanting money for drugs. The task
of finding an effective way of dealing with this problem
is an important issue facing British society.
Young people's attitudes and action
people in Britain are able
to vote in elections from the age of 18. However,
in the 2001 general election, only one in five potential
first-time voters actually cast their vote, and there
has been a great debate over the reasons for this.
Researchers have concluded that one reason is young
people's distrust of politicians and the political
many young people show little interest in party politics,
there is strong evidence that they are interested
in some specific political issues. Those who commonly
say they are not interested in politics at all often
express strong concern about environmental issues
and cruelty to animals.
survey of the attitudes of young people in England
in 2003 revealed that crime, drugs, war/terrorism,
racism, and health were the five most important issues
that they felt Britain
faced today. The same survey asked young people about
their participation in political and community events.
It was reported that 86 per cent of young people had
taken part in some form of community activity over
the past year. 50 per cent had taken part in fund-raising
or collecting money for charity.