What is a young carer?
Young carers are children and young people under 18 years old who provide regular and ongoing care to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances (ADASS, ADCS and The Children’s Society, 2012).
Prevalence of bullying among young carers
Research has shown that young carers are a vulnerable group and are significantly more likely to be bullied. Young carers have a range of responsibilities which might include caring for a sick relative or friend. This can have a significant impact on their lives which can leave them feeling different or isolated from their peers, they may miss out on social opportunities and are more likely to be bullied or harassed (Carers Trust, 2016).
16% of young carers aged 11-17 years reported being bullied compared with 3% of 11-17 year olds who were not young carers.
(Aldridge, et al, 2017).
More than half of young carers (58%) report being cyberbullied
(Katz et al, 2014)
68% young carers had been bullied at school.
(Princess Royal Trust for Carers, 2010a)
Experiences of bullying among young carers
Experiences of bullying can vary greatly but young carers often report that their care responsibilities and family circumstances make them feel different and they find it more challenging to join peer groups. One young carer aged 12 reported:
I am always working on my own... I am like the odd one in my class… Because of caring I feel I am unusual… I ask if I am allowed to join [their groups] they say no.
(Department for Education, 2016)
While there are many reasons why young carers are targeted, they often experience the bullying by their peers at school because of their circumstances or because they're perceived to be 'different'.
Some young carers are bullied because of the condition or illness of the person they care for, whilst others can be bullied because they appear to lack social skills or seem more mature than young people of the same age.
(Princess Royal Trust for Carers, 2010b)
Young carers describe feeling 'torn between two worlds' or responsibilities at home and at school. They report that it can be better when teachers know their situation, and allow some flexibility.
Issues arise when the teachers don’t know or don’t care and then punish me for being late, etc. It's demotivating- and makes me feel lonely and unsupported. Like I can’t do anything right.
(ABA consultation, 2018)
They also say there is a fine line between allowances for late homework or access to their phones, as they don't want to be marked out as 'special' or different by their peers as this can lead to bullying.