For childrens society young carers, there was a significant association between bullying and poorer academic outcomes, worse behavior at school, lower confidence at exams, and lower employment opportunities. There was a notable increase in cases of depression among teenagers treated as adults. The difference between bullied children and those not bullied was suggestive of a protective mechanism developed by childhood experiences.
Bullying has a particularly negative effect on vulnerable young people already suffering from other emotional and mental health problems and behavioral problems. It can also have a detrimental impact on academic performance and well-being. Further research has suggested that it may also cause a significant increase in alcohol and drug abuse risk. Bullying behavior is strongly influenced by gender and ethnicity. One in four male carer children and one in three female carer children are likely to be the target of bullying at some point during their childhood.
The number of local strategies and activities required to tackle bullying in schools was insufficient. More resources may be needed to fully implement a plan for tackling this issue. In order to make a positive change, extra support should be provided to vulnerable young carers in communities across the country. This additional support may be provided through a range of activities and initiatives.
One activity that could be carried out to support vulnerable young carers is an open day where people from the community and those outside the school attend to identify young carers at risk of bullying. An open day can also specify particular individuals who may be at greater risk. By understanding their circumstances and individual needs, it is possible to proactively ensure that these young people are not subjected to any further unnecessary pressure or hardship. Many events around the country have successfully used this innovative strategy.
The main aim of the “Young Caring Role” was to ensure that all young carers within a school community feel supported and part of a larger team. All staff was trained to identify a vulnerable young carer, and a suitable activity or support was provided. The course taught how to support the vulnerable young carer in various activities. The participants were also taught about appropriate communication behavior with peers and parents.
The Young Caring Role is now running alongside the nationally funded National Teaching Plan (NTP), giving a wider cross-departmental approach to child carers’ education. Over the last year, the program has been integrated into the new NTP, with improved coordination between the sectors. This means that any future developments in this program have greater access to a greater variety of local people and organizations in order to support childrens society young carers.