I’m Getting Behind The Seriously Awkward Campaign. Are you?

The catalyst for me leaving home when I was just 15 was an argument with my step-father, and a punch in the face that nearly broke my nose. I came back to London with just £50 in my pocket, and slept between the cot and bunk beds on my cousins floor in my aunt’s tiny two bed maisonette.

It wasn’t ideal, but I was as safe as I could be under the circumstances. After living there for about six months, I moved in with my first boyfriend and his family. Again not ideal, but at least I was safe.

My first job was working as a waitress in a grimy market caff, and after this I graduated to an independent home wares shop (now known as the 99p store). The owners mainly employed under age staff, and would regularly get us absolutely smashed-drunk and try to take advantage of us. I know a handful of girls who lost their virginity in pub toilets to these guys. Fortunately I managed to dodge this particular ball somehow. Not quite sure how.

By the time my ‘first love’ and I parted ways I had managed to blag my way into a job in a department store, and was legally working. This meant I could afford to move into a house share, and it was there that I met some of the people who changed my life.

After all, if we are surrounded by older men getting young girls wasted and shagging them in toilets, this becomes our norm doesn’t it? 

I’ve often wondered how differently things could have panned out, and feel fortunate that it went the way it did. My young life was not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it could have been a lot worse than it was.  Which is why I’m getting behind the Seriously Awkward campaign by The Children’s Society.

“What is Seriously Awkward?

Seriously Awkward is our priority campaign to protect 16 and 17 year olds from harm, abuse and neglect. As older teenagers, they are often overlooked or seen as ‘beyond help’. The most vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds are often in grave danger, facing hidden harm. They are more likely to go missing or be victims of violent crime than any other age. They are a high risk group for domestic violence and sexual exploitation. Yet they are the least protected from abuse and neglect in law, and get much less support than younger children.

The Children’s Society is asking the Government to change the law to protect 16 and 17 year olds from abuse and neglect. We are also calling for more support for teenagers at this age and for them to be more involved in the decisions that affect their lives. We want as many people as possible to sign our petition, and help encourage others to sign this. Our campaign is based on the challenges we see teenagers facing in our projects across the country as well as extensive research.

You can read the full report and stories about some of the young people we work with here.

Some Seriously Awkward Findings

Here are some of the most interesting findings from our research report. We want to challenge the perception of teenagers as resilient or streetwise, and lift the lid on how many teenagers feel – especially those most at risk:

● The majority of parents feel life is harder today for teenagers than when they were young.
● One in three 16 and 17 year olds has faced sleepless nights due to worry in the last year.
● One in three 16 and 17 year olds frequently feel anxious and a quarter frequently feel sad.
● One in ten 16 and 17 year olds admit they feel pressure to do things that could leave them at risk such as taking drugs, drinking alcohol or spending time with people they don’t feel comfortable with.
● 70% of this age group do not describes themselves as ‘streetwise’
● Two thirds of 16 and 17 year olds feel judged just for being a teenager.
● The Children’s Society estimate that half a million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK face particular risk of harm because they are already dealing with issues such as poverty, poor health or a lack of supportive relationships.
● A teenager has to be under 16 to be protected by laws on child cruelty and neglect.
● Three quarters of parents believe 16 and 17 year olds are still children and should be protected from harm – but the law is dangerously inconsistent in this area.”

You can get behind this seriously worthy cause by signing their petition to ask the Government to change the law to protect 16 and 17 year olds from harm, abuse and neglect.


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38 thoughts on “I’m Getting Behind The Seriously Awkward Campaign. Are you?

  1. It’s absolutely shocking isn’t it Tracey, and as you say this government is not helping. Thanks so much for signing the petition, every signature counts xx

  2. This is such a bad situation. Being someone who was in care as a child (a loving, secure foster family I might add) I know how at 16 you are suddenly on your own, no safety net. The lack of resources for childrens services is a major factor. Young adults are not entitled to housing benefits and there are so few foster places available that Often only teens who have actually suffered severe abuse are offered protection. In most cases the teen is told they have to stay in the home reguardless of the situations within the home (overcrowding, poverty, substance abuse by parents, substance abuse by the teen themselves as well as emotional physical or sexual abuse.)
    Unfortunately with this government I dont see the situation getting any better, but I will still support this campaign.
    Thank you for linking up, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

  3. What a brilliant campaign! 16 and 17 year olds should be considered children and protected. Some teenagers don’t think of themselves as children which is why they’re more vulnerable. The belief that they are invincible can sometimes lead to trouble. Thanks for raising awareness honey, this is definitely one to be supported. xxx

  4. Such an important point to make Denise – yes she could technically leave home, but you know how much she’d suffer in the long run if she did. Thankfully R has a lovely mum looking out for her x

  5. What a great campaign. My LD#1 will be 17 next month, and although she is thoughtful, intelligent, sensible, she would find it so hard to survive out there by herself. I can’t even imagine it. So many things she is unsure of and lacks confidence in. Most 16 and 17 year olds still need that time to develop into their confident and able future selves.

  6. Oh you, lovely lady, will bring tears to my eyes on a regular basis, I just know it! It’s a very real problem that has always existed, but needs addressing more than ever. I’m so happy to be able to get behind such a worthy cause xxx

  7. And there my dear you’ve hit the nail on the head, because you never ever know what’s round the corner. So pleased to have highlighted the campaign, and thank you for signing hon.

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more! It needs a complete and total makeover and it infuriates me that our leaders don’t do more for our children. We all know they are the future of our country and of our planet. We need to do more for them.

  9. So much love and respect for you Renee. Such an important campaign- 16 and 17 has far too long been a grey area for child protection. While I personally have a lot of time for statistics, all the stats in the world can’t do what you and Cash and other brave souls out there are doing: putting a very real, very human, very relatable face to a horribly serious issue. Hats off to you. Ella xxx

  10. Yet another eye-poppingly brave post. I simply can’t believe what you’ve gone through in your life and quite honestly question why I think I had it so bad!! Well done sweetie. Thanks for linking to #BabyBrainMonday

  11. Having such young children, late teen-hood often feels like a million miles away from CBeebies, Micro Scooters and Lego. We don’t see our pre-schoolers as people that could potentially be victims to a host of harrowing situations in the future – largely because they are so firmly under our control and our protection. My elder child is approaching 4, and I am shocked at how quickly this much of his life has passed already. Our kids are going to be teenagers before we know it, and although you would never – in a million years – believe that their circumstances could change, the reality is that they could.

    Thanks for bringing this campaign to my attention, Ren. Petition signed.

  12. Oh Michelle that just sounds absolutely awful. I am incredulous as to why this is not the top of the priority list for all governments. Surely if teenagers are falling through the cracks in the system and ending up on the streets and in jail, then the system is well and truly broken and needs fixing!

  13. I was really honoured to be asked to help Suzanne, and am so glad to be able to. I’ve cried many tears over the years for the girl I used to be, but she made me the person I am today, for that I’m grateful xx

  14. That sounds brilliant, well done! My start certainly wasn’t great, but so many still have it so much worse. Lets just hope this fabulous campaign makes a difference!

  15. Your start sounds horrendous. I’m so glad things got turned around for you. I’m currently raising money for The Children’s Society through their bake and brew and hearing your story makes me so glad that I doing a little something to help such a worthy cause. Hopefully it will mean that another young girl won’t suffer as you did. #fartglitter

  16. This is the first time I have heard of this campaign so a good thing that you have shared. I am sorry to read of your story and I can quite understand why you are getting right behind this course. I know several parents of children where they have really struggled at that age and also one that works for a charity in Hackney supporting children of this age. A very vulnerable group. Thank you for highlighting this. Nice to meet you at #abitofeverything. Nicky

  17. Gosh Renee, what a life you had. Every time I read the detail of your life as a young teenager (cos that’s what you were) I’m just shocked and sad. But look at you know! Well done lady and for getting behind such a worthy cause that is so close to your heart. x

  18. This is a great cause! Thank you for bringing it to light. I wish they had something like this in the states because our teenagers over here are suffering too, especially those in foster care. At 16, 17, and 18, they are pretty much expected to fend for themselves and when they age out at 18, they are completely disgarded without the promise of an education, job, or a home and as a result, most of them end up on the streets and many wind up in jail because that’s where the street life leads. I want to advocate for them but my government just keeps dropping the ball when it comes to our kids. I had a rough childhood and teen years myself but I’ve found my way out and now all I want to to is to help kids find their way out. Thanks so much for sharing this! Visiting from #abitofeverything

  19. Sounds like a good campaign. It’s a vulnerable age as you’ve pointed out, they are caught between having the protection of a child and being an adult. Always hard to read about your life but you are very brave to be open about it. Hugs X

  20. Looking back Vicki it hardly seems possible that this was my life. Roo will never have to go through any of this, because she has you and her daddy looking out for her xx

  21. Gosh…what awful teenage years you had, and what an incredibly important campaign you are backing. Well done for highlighting your difficult years…you are very brave. Those statistics are shocking about kids these days. It makes me feel sad and scared knowing that Roo is only 8 years away from all that. Eek.

  22. It’s shocking how easy it still is to fall through the cracks, and end up in a place so horrendous it ends up being too hard for so many to come back from. I have so much respect for Cash for what she’s achieved and campaigns for. Thanks for signing lovely xx

  23. When I read a few posts by The Comeback Mum recently I really did find myself thinking about you. It’s not until reading something like this that spells it out how bad is for those teens who fall between the gaps that the matter is brought into sharp focus. I will be signing the petition. Xx

  24. Sounds like a very worthwhile campaign. As a former teacher I know how hard things can get for this age group and how lost and confused they can feel. I agree that they are still children and should be protected as such. Thank you for raising awareness of this issue and I will certainly check out The Children’s Society website for more information.

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