A new study from the Australian National University and University of Western Sydney has found that the excessive use of alcohol, aggressive drivers and the threat of violence can have important impacts on children, particularly making them feel unsafe in their communities.
The report, Putting the pieces in place: Children, communities and social capital in Australia, found safety was an important issue for children and was most acute for those living in disadvantaged areas, where children were less likely to feel safe in their neighbourhoods.
Director of the Children's Policy Centre and senior lecturer at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, Dr Sharon Bessell led the research with Emeritus Professor Jan Mason of University of Western Sydney.
Dr Bessell said the report found the use and abuse of alcohol was the single issue highlighted consistently by children as the issue that made them feel unsafe.
"For many of the children, experiences of adult aggression and violence associated with alcohol and cars posed an ongoing threat to their sense of security and everyday safety," she said.
"The children were acutely aware that adults become highly unpredictable when drunk, and this made them feel vulnerable."
Dr Bessell said these feelings of vulnerability were particularly acute at disadvantaged sites where the majority of children had witnessed drunken behaviour in public places.
She said the study examined what children thought about their communities and what the children would like to change.
Dr Bessell said the findings painted the most detailed picture yet of how decisions taken by adults impact the lives and feelings of the youngest members of the community.
She said other issues highlighted by the children included: the importance of a good physical environment; feeling disconnected from the adults in their communities because of long working hours and financial pressures on parents; and 'Adult solutions' were not always solutions for children, such as children rooms in clubs.
A copy of the full report is available at this PS News link.
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