Two-thirds of young carers have been bullied at school while almost a quarter (23%) suffer from stress due to juggling school work and caring responsibilities, according to research published today.
The survey of 700 6 to18-year-olds who care for a sick or disabled family member – conducted by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and The Children’s Society – also found that over half (52%) said they did not feel supported by their teachers, while 39% said there was not a single teacher at their school who knew they were a young carer.
Many also reported feeling depressed and tired and said their caring responsibilities had caused them to miss homework deadlines and take days off school.
Carole Cochrane, chief executive at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, said: “It is shocking to discover that so many young carers have to endure bullying, mental health problems and a lack of support from their teachers, all because they care for a family member who is unable to cope without their help.”
This month the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and The Children’s Society will launch a resource: Supporting Young Carers: a resource for schools, to empower schools to start identifying and supporting young carers.
“Sadly, without the right support, many young carers will underachieve or drop out of school altogether, which has a long and enduring impact on their future prospects. We know that when school staff are involved in supporting young carers it can make a huge difference to their lives,” said Cochrane.
Shannon, 11, helps care for her father who has sibromyalgia and clinical depression. Her mother has carpal tunnel so Shannon helps her with housework and lifting.
Only one of her teachers is aware of her role but it means she can obtain extensions on homework and assignments.
“I do get tired at school and it does get hard. It’s hard trying to explain to friends. I don’t really want to tell them in case they don’t understand,” she added.