Page last updated at 23:02 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 00:02 UK

Recession 'tops children's fears'

Boy in playground
Adults like to think they can protect their children from the more difficult aspects of life but they can't
Sinead Rocks, Newsround editor

Children are increasingly worried about the credit crunch and the threat of crime, a new BBC survey has found.

Some 61% said they had been affected by the downturn. More than 40% said their parents were worried about money - up from 30% in the first survey in 2007.

Getting stabbed or shot was the biggest fear for 14% of nine to 12-year-olds.

CBBC and Newsround researchers carried out 1,000 face-to-face interviews with boys and girls, aged six to 12, across the UK.

The survey found that concern about the recession and global economy had replaced the more optimistic outlook reflected in the first study back in 2007.

Shaun, 12, talks about how life has been since his dad lost his job last summer

Eighty-six percent of children said they would be willing to give up something - such as sweets or pocket money - to help their families cope with the worsening economic climate.

One in five said they were fed up with hearing about the credit crunch but, despite the gloomy economic backdrop, 75% said they thought their childhood was better than the childhood experienced by their parents.

Fear of crime prompted one in four children to say they would sometimes avoid going out alone and 15% said they would hide their valuables.

Getting shot or stabbed is now a major concern for children

At its most extreme, 5% sometimes do not go to school because of their concerns and 2% carry a weapon for protection.

Nearly one in three children (30%) said bullying was a problem at their school - 28% said they had been bullied in school and 14% outside school.

One in ten said they thought teachers at their school were sometimes bullied or attacked by the pupils.

Newsround's editor Sinead Rocks said: "This information provides a real insight into children's lives and some of it should certainly come as a surprise - for example that children have such an awareness of crime and even that children, although a small minority, are willing to carry a weapon."


Despite worries about the economy, crime and violence, most children described themselves as happy.

Girls were the least satisfied with the way they were but most changes wanted were cosmetic - changing their hair or getting rid of spots. Just 5% said they wanted to be thinner.

Doing well at school was the most important thing for one in three children. Girls emphasised kindness as a virtue whilst boys focused on being good at sport.

Only 4% had negative perceptions about themselves.

Sinead Rocks said: "The real surprise from this year's survey was the strength of feeling children had about the credit crunch.

"Adults like to think they can protect their children from the more difficult aspects of life but they can't."

Wider world

Rosemary Duff, research director of Childwise and who helped carry out the survey, said she was impressed by the children's honesty and courage in speaking out on issues that concerned them.

"The children showed remarkable maturity, confidence and awareness of the wider world that often they are not given credit for."

She said she did find it "surprising" that so many children had been affected by the credit crunch but that their worries about being stabbed in the street were based on what they had seen on the news or heard other people talking about.

41% say their parents worry about money
15% say their parents worry about their jobs
20% are fed up with hearing about the credit crunch

"Statistics show that in fact they needn't be anxious about this kind of crime and are worrying unnecessarily," she added.

Alex Gray, a supervisor at ChildLine, said: "Young People are calling ChildLine about many issues linked to the credit crunch.

"Financial worries can put a lot of pressure on parents and there may be more arguments at home.

"Some young people have found that their family needs to live in a different house.

"This may mean they have to move to a new school leaving their friends behind. Others have even been bullied because their parents cannot afford to buy the latest clothes and gadgets."

Newsround will be on CBBC on BBC One at 1705 BST on Monday 20 April 2009.

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