It’s Anti-bullying Week and we are calling on schools to develop policies for dealing with the bullying of young carers — following new research revealing that a quarter of young adult carers surveyed have been bullied at school specifically because of their caring role.

The research, carried out by Carers Trust in partnership with the University of Nottingham, also found that nearly half of respondents (42%) did not have a staff member to confide in at school. The most common reason the young carers gave for not telling a staff member about their caring role was that they felt there was ‘no point’ in doing so.

What needs to change
We are calling on schools to appoint named carer ‘leads’, who can help young carers have the same opportunities for personal, social and education development as other young people. 

We are also asking GPs and other health professionals to establish systems to identify and assess the health care needs of children and young people in families, where there is parental and other ill health and disability.

Where a staff member supports a young carer, and where there are policies and procedures in place to identify and support young carers in school (and to clearly communicate this to young people and their families) self-confidence improves. 

Young Carers who attended a service run by Carers Trust Network Partners report that they had performed better at school because of the project.

Dr Moira Fraser, Head of Policy at Carers Trust, said:

“This research proves what we often hear young people say - that they are bullied as a result of their caring role.”

“These young people are taking on roles normally expected of adults. They deserve more than this. We need to make sure that they are supported through school to thrive emotionally, socially and academically.

“Bullying has a real impact on young people’s self-confidence and self-esteem, increasing feelings of isolation and potentially leading to mental health issues.  Schools, doctors, and everyone in a position to identify young people in caring roles, need to make it their business to ensure they get the support they need.”

Lack of confidence in the system
Professor Saul Becker, Assistant Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Nottingham, said:

“Our research shows that the main reason young carers gave for not telling school staff about the caring responsibilities they have was they felt ‘there was no point’. This suggests a lack of confidence in the system, its procedures and processes – not least in relation to the issue of bullying. 

“We were surprised and worried that such a large proportion of respondents said they had been bullied specifically because of their caring role. More needs to be done by schools to restore children’s and young people’s confidence and establish systems through which young and young adult carers can inform staff and receive the support that they need.”

The research, was part of a wider study of young carers and young adult carers aged 14-25, undertaken as part of Carers Trust’s About Time Programme.