Wider wealth gap 'harms children'

(First Edition)

CHILDREN are the new victims of the widening gap between rich and poor, the charity Barnardos said yesterday.

In the past 10 years, more children were injured as result of accidents or abuse, more lived in poverty and more were expelled from school, according to Unfair Shares, a booklet by Richard Wilkinson, of the Trafford Centre for Medical Research at Sussex University.

Mr Wilkinson, who presented his report to a conference in London, said: 'These trends provide worrying evidence of deteriorating social and psychological conditions among children and young people at a time when income difference in Britain widened on an unprecedented scale. There can be no doubt the growth of relative deprivation is an important factor in these rising trends.'

During the 1980s, the number of children under four receiving serious injuries doubled, and the number added to child protection registers almost quadrupled.

Among older teenagers the number of drug offenders doubled in the 17-29 age group, and the suicide rate among 15- to 24-year-olds increased by 70 per cent in the 1980s. The poorest 10 per cent of the population became 14 per cent poorer (1979-1991) while 80 per cent of the population saw an average 36 per cent increase in income.

Lives and human potential were wasted, 'lowering national standards of attainment, creating anxiety and insecurity among the general population and imposing a huge burden on the public purse.'

Unfair Shares; Barnardos, Tanner's Lane, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex; pounds 5.99.