Scottish care home children 'stigmatised'

Almost a third of adults think children over the age of 12 are in care because they have done something wrong, according to a new survey.

January 28, 2010 / BBC News

The results of the poll have been published by Who Cares? Scotland which has launched a campaign to tackle such discrimination.

The charity said that for too long care home youngsters have been bullied or written off.

It wants to persuade society to give looked after young people a chance.

Who Cares? Scotland - the charity which represents the views of children in residential homes - said that often youngsters are in care because their home life is unsafe, rather than because of anything they have done.

Mandy, a teenager in residential care in East Lothian, left home because she was not being properly looked after.

She said: "Some people think that because I'm in care I've done something wrong, like committed a crime.

"If I'd stayed at home I wouldn't be getting the support and opportunities that I needed."

Mandy wants to break down the stereotypical image.

She said: "If I get good grades, I'd like to go to university and study biochemistry."

Nearly one in three adults and almost half of the young people surveyed believed young people over the age of 12 were in care because of their own behaviour.

But almost three quarters of Scots who were questioned thought that being in care could help children and young people to get their lives back on track.

Carly Mclennan, who has worked in residential childcare since 1988, said she believed the system had improved.

'Safety and protection'

She said: "Previously, young people wouldn't even attain one standard grade and now the Scottish government are looking to encourage young people and schools to attain at least a minimum in English and Maths as a Standard Grade.

"In fact many people go on to achieve better results than that and may leave school with four or five Standard Grades."

But she believes long-held perceptions are hard to shift.

"People in society seem to think that young people are brought into care or accommodated because they are bad children," she said.

"That's not the case. Often young people are brought into care for their own safety and protection and it's helping them come out of that family situation that might be particularly difficult."


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