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Dismay at UK's Prejudice Against Children

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Barnardo's vision is that the lives of all children should be free from poverty, abuse and discrimination.

But frankly, I am dismayed at the level of prejudice against children in this country. Half the UK's adult population thinks children today are behaving like animals and one in four would write off a badly behaved child by the age of 10.

It is a sad stereotype which Barnardo's is battling against, for the sake of the young people themselves and wider society.

We aren't asking people to put up with yobbish behaviour, but we do need to change our attitudes towards troubled children.

The majority are well behaved and contribute to their communities in positive ways; through Girl Guides, Scouts and Duke of Edinburgh awards for instance.

Heartbreakingly, those who do come across as angry and abusive have often been abused themselves, been victims of domestic violence or have mental health problems. Research we've conducted has shown 8% of 12, 13 and 14-year-olds in custody have attempted suicide.

At Barnardo's we know that it's never too late to believe in children and change their life story - it doesn't have to end how it began. It is our purpose to transform the lives of the most vulnerable children and help them fulfill their potential and we do this up and down the UK.

We must challenge the one in four in the UK who believe that by the time a child is ten it is too late to help them to change.

Our newest ad, Life Story, features 'Michael' - a young man with everything to live for, but as he speaks he becomes younger and the viewer sees Michael was an angry and troubled teenager and an abused five-year-old boy. We also get a glimpse of the support he received from a Barnardo's worker.

We have a responsibility to make sure that the public understands what Barnardo's does today and advertising helps us to do this. If people don't know about Barnardo's they won't support us. This is our challenge.

With economic turmoil, government cuts and social unrest, this is an era of uncertainty for us all, but none more so than for young people. So we are urging people to join us urgently to fight for a child's future.

Barnardo's advert 'Life Story' will premiere across the Channel 4 network, after 8pm, tonight.
To view the campaign go to www.barnardos.org.uk/lifestory.

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