Observations Medicine and the Media

Barnardo’s misleading survey: publicity at what cost?

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7802 (Published 30 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7802
  1. Margaret McCartney, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. margaret{at}margaretmccartney.com

A survey by the charity purporting to show anti-child sentiment in the UK got a great deal of publicity. However, Margaret McCartney says that the exercise was a lesson in how to ask leading questions

“Half ‘think youngsters are violent,’” began the Press Association wire, continuing, “Almost half of Britons think young people are angry, violent and abusive . . . The survey of more than 2000 people found half thought children were beginning to behave like animals and more than two in five thought children were ‘becoming feral.’

“‘What hope is there for childhood in the UK today if this is how adults think?’ Ms Carrie said” (www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5i2A3TetJzjhFoveBwG_JGw1-mWYg?docId=N0413871320230521767A).

Anne Marie Carrie is chief executive of Barnardo’s, the children’s charity that had commissioned the survey into attitudes held by adults towards children in the United Kingdom. The story received broad coverage. The BBC reported, “The survey revealed that: 49% agreed children are beginning to behave like animals; almost 47% thought youngsters were angry, violent and abusive; one in four said those who behaved badly were beyond help by the age of 10. …

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