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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Adults 'love pets more than kids'
For many people, animals come first
One in three adults in England love their pets more than their children, according to survey by a children's charity.

The study, by the National Children's Bureau (NCB), showed 33% of adults questioned said they had more affection for their animal than their offspring, while 40% said their children came first.

But despite some friction between generations, the NCB said the country had become more "child friendly" in recent years.

"Reassuringly, most children and young people thought that the majority of adults were friendly towards them," said Dr Nicolas Madge, the report's author.

Half of young people surveyed said they felt welcome in public places most of the time, and more than three-quarters of adults said they liked to see children playing in their neighbourhood.

More than half secondary school pupils questioned, meanwhile, said they believed young children did not show enough respect towards adults.

'Feel threatened'

But alongside positive findings, there was also evidence of mistrust.

Forty per cent of children said they felt welcome in public places only some of the time, and almost one in ten said they were made to feel unwelcome.

Among the adults questioned, more than half said they felt threatened by groups of teenagers hanging around street corners, while seven out of 10 adults said they did not think parents exercised enough control over their children.

"Perhaps the strongest message arising from the research is about the need for greater tolerance and understanding, which applies to everyone, regardless of their age," said Dr Madge.

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