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Bernardos Childhood Poll 2007

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Yesterday, Barnardos, Ireland's leading children's charity, revealed the results of its national Childhood 2007 Poll. Today we are going to look at the five main findings of the poll and discuss how childhood has changed over the last number of years.

Norah Gibbons - Barnardos Director of Advocacy.

The five issues
. Bullying
. Stress and Anxiety
. Parent / Child Relationships
. Childrens Safety
. Behaviors That Worry Parents

BULLYING
Bullying is the top concern for both parents and children in Ireland with 82% of parents being concerned about bullying in general. 23% of these then made bullying their top concern when relating to their own children and 39% of children said that bullying was the main thing that impacted on their friends in their day to day lives.

STRESS AND ANXIETY
Stress and anxiety was the next top concern to parents about their own children with 12% saying that it was a major concern in their lives. Parents are a little more likely to be concerned about how their daughters are faring psychologically with the exception of bullying which is the top parental worry for both sons and daughters. 16% of teenagers said that stress, anxiety and depression was something that impacted on their friends. Three out of ten teenagers say that their close friends have experienced none of the above; the implication is that seven out of ten have.

PARENT / CHILD RELATIONSHIPS
This was really interesting with eight out of ten parents thinking that their children's childhood is better than their own with just over a half thinking that it's a lot better. Three out of four children think that their childhood is better than their parents childhood. Some other interesting stats:

. Nine out of ten parents think their relationship with their child is very good to excellent
. Eight out of ten children think their relationship with their parents is very good to excellent
. Over half of parents (56%) think their relationship with their children is better than they had with their own parents

The following were the top five responses which influence positive relationships with children:
Listening to children, providing safe environment, spending time together doing something children enjoy, being consistent, setting rules

62% of parents think that parents in Ireland generally do not spend enough time with their children however 76% of these think that they personally do spend enough time with their kids. Eight out of ten kids feel that their parents do spend enough time with them, again two out of ten think they do not!

Full Time
Where both parents are working full time, 36% said they were very satisfied with the amount of time they spent with their children. 26% of parents working full time are more likely to think that their personal work patterns are impacting negatively on children.

One Parent Part - Time
On the other hand also consider that 52% of parents where both parents work but one is part-time said they were very satisfied with the amount of time they spent with their children. 13% of parents where one parent is working full time and one part-time are likely to think that their personal work patterns are impacting negatively on children.

One Parent Stay At Home
59% of parents where one parent stays at home said they were very satisfied with the amount of time they spent with their children. 14%, of these think that their personal work patterns are impacting negatively on children

What do we think of work impacting on our families?
Seven out of ten (72%) parents think Irish work patterns are impacting negatively on children. Figure drops to 18% when parents were asked if work patterns are having a negative impact in their own lives. These views are however influenced by the various work arrangements outlined above.

The implication is that parents who both work full time are twice as likely to consider their personal work patterns are impacting negatively on children.

CHILDRENS SAFETY

Almost four out of five parents (79%) feel their children are less safe today compared to their own childhood. At the same time six out of ten parents think their children have more freedom than they had. For example, of the children surveyed 47% go to town/city once a week without their parents. Listed highly in parents concerns were the various new technologies available to children which were not available to them as children.

New Technology
Parents have an ambivalent attitude to new technology, for example, mobile phones. On the one hand they believe mobiles help them to 'keep tabs' on their children and on the other they are worried that their children and engaging in or have access to a form of communication outside of parental control. Parents were aware in qualitative research of the potential of mobile phones to be used in bullying children.

Mobile Phones
One in three parents said they monitored their children's mobile messages with mothers doing it more than fathers (38% vs 26%)

The Internet
The internet was seen to be a bigger danger since it opened children to communication from outside their local relationship network. Of the children surveyed in this poll:

. 52% go on Bebo/ My Space/ You Tube once a week
. 59% browse the internet on a weekly basis

Two out of three parents in this poll monitored their children's internet use - with mothers again doing it more than fathers (76% vs 61%) Of the parents surveyed, however, only one in three knew (correctly) that sites such as Bebo and MySpace were not responsible for their content - the other 66% either did not know or presumed incorrectly that the sites were responsible

The figures were similar for children themselves with almost two out of three either not knowing or presuming incorrectly that the sites were responsible for content. Three out of four parents said these sites should be responsible for their content T while almost six out of ten young people also agreed (22% said no and 20% said 'don't know)

BEHAVIOURS THAT WORRY PARENTS

Quite worryingly parents of teenagers said they were aware of their children being involved in the following
. 34% drinking alcohol
. 18% smoking cigarettes
. 7% having sex
. 2% gambling
. 1% smoking cannabis

56% say they are not aware of their children being involved in any of this behaviour and 5% said they did not know

Nine out of ten parents surveyed said listening to their children was the key factor influencing a positive relationship with their children. Children participating in this survey were asked what, if any, activities they had discussed with their parents. The following are the activities that they had discussed with their parents:

. Alcohol (80%)
. Cigarettes (71%),
. Drugs (66%)
. Sex (48%)
. Serious relationship (42%)
. Cannabis (39%)
. Gambling (28%)

Parents more likely to talk to their daughters about sex and relationships than their sons (54% vs 42% in relation to sex) (49% vs 36% for relationships)

. Working class parents more likely to have discussed serious relationships than middle class parents (59% vs 46%)
. Half of all parents had not had a conversation about sex by the time their children were 15

When asked which activities their parents have set rules on, children said:

. Two out of three had been given rules about alcohol
. Six out of ten had been given rules about drugs
. Six out of ten had been given rules about smoking
. Four out of ten has been given rules about cannabis
. Four out of ten had been given rules about sex

Parents are more likely to set rules with their sons about drugs (71% vs 55%) and rules with their daughters about sex (43% vs 31%)

Children themselves think that u-18s should not take part in
. 64% think they should not drink alcohol - 73% of 12-13-year-olds drops to 50% at 16 to 17
. 54% think they should not have sex - which drops to 49% for 16 to 17-year-olds
. 45% think they should not smoke cigarettes which drops to 40% by the time they reach 16

Alcohol is the big attitude change as children move through their teens

Parental attitudes to all of the above
. One in four of parents consider between the ages of 16 and 17 as acceptable ages to start drinking, with 11% saying alcohol was acceptable from age 16 on. The legal age for drinking alcohol is 18

. Seven out of ten parents said alcohol advertising should be banned before 9pm

83% of parents thought age 18 and over was an acceptable age to start having sex (42% said age 18 and 41% said age 19) 7% thought it was acceptable at age 16 to have sex; 9% of parents thought it was acceptable to have sex at 17. The legal age to have sex in Ireland is 17

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