One in three older teenagers in the South East have been too stressed to sleep, says charity

More than a third of 16- and 17-year-olds in the South East are so anxious that they have suffered sleepless nights in the last year, according to new research from The Children’s Society.

The research, published on Friday (June 26), said 39 per cent of 16- and 17-year-olds in the region frequently feel anxious and 77 per cent say they have felt judged simply for being a teenager.

The figures, based on an opiniun poll of more than 1,000 16- and 17-year-olds across the UK, are being released to coincide with the launch of The Children’s Society’s new report, Seriously Awkward.

The survey found that, nationally, 25 per cent of 16- and 17-year-olds say they often feel sad, and one in four say they do not feel optimistic about the future. The concern is mirrored among parents, with 70 per cent saying that life is tougher for their teenagers than it was for them.

The Children’s Society said its new Seriously Awkward campaign highlights the huge challenges that 16- and 17-year-olds face. It added that they are more likely to go missing or be a victim of violent crime than any other age group, as well as also being at a high risk of sexual exploitation and domestic violence.

The organisation said it is lobbying for a change in the law to protect children aged 16 and 17 from abuse and neglect, and ensure that support services, such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health services, always treat them as children and offer them support when they need it.

The Children’s Society said an estimated half a million 16- and 17-year-olds across the UK face particular risk of harm because they are already dealing with multiple issues such as poverty, poor health or a lack of supportive relationships.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “This research reveals that a generation of teenagers are being let down by society. Many are struggling with a range of issues but are dismissed as resilient enough to cope, and denied the same legal protection and services as younger children.

“For the most vulnerable teenagers, those suffering from abuse, neglect and homelessness, and mental health issues, the future can be even more bleak. All children including those aged 16 and 17 should feel safe and supported and that’s why we’re urgently calling on the Government to change the law to protect all 16- and 17-yea- olds from abuse and neglect, provide better services to support them, and offer special protection for those who are most vulnerable.”

For more information or to sign a petition to change the law to protect 16 and 17 year olds visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk/seriouslyawkward.

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