Published on 27 May 2014 Sections , ,

Was Britain better for children 30 years ago?

A YouGov poll for Channel 4 News finds four-in-five Ukip voters believe the UK was a better place to raise children 20-30 years ago. But is this true? And what do you think?

Children in the 1980s and the 2010s

The 10-year period between 1984 and 1994 – which brought with it many great contributions to society (Ghostbusters, the Simpsons and Vanilla Ice, to name but a few) – was also hailed as a better time to bring up a child than modern Britain by 81 per cent of Ukip voters.

The poll, of more than 6,000 British adults, taken on 20 and 21 May, shows that Ukip voters appear to have much greater nostalgia than the voters for other parties (see stats, below).

Channel 4 News asked Facebook and Twitter users if they agree – with mixed results.

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Post by Channel 4 News.

Approximately two-thirds of people who responded agreed that the UK was a better place to raise children in the 1980s and 1990s – citing a range of issues including violent crime.

Matthew Williams wrote: “Yes, people never got stabbed, murdered, etc as much as they do these days!”

Saadia Ali wrote: “Being a child at that time, I would agree, there was more community spirit and we knew everyone as well as played out on the street without fear, my gran’s back door was always open… can’t do that nowadays….”

Overall, do you Britain is a better or a worse country in which to bring up children than it was 20-30 years ago?

Ukip voters: Better now - 9 per cent, Worse now - 81 per cent, About the same - 8 per cent, Don't know - 2 per cent.
Conservative voters: Better now - 24 per cent, Worse now - 47 per cent, About the same - 22 per cent, Don't know - 7 per cent.
Labour voters: Better now - 17 per cent, Worse now - 62 per cent, About the same - 15 per cent, Don't know - 7 per cent.
Liberal Democrat voters: Better now - 27 per cent, Worse now - 40 per cent, About the same - 25 per cent, Don't know - 8 per cent.
Green voters: Better now - 17 per cent, Worse now - 53 per cent, About the same - 19 per cent, Don't know - 11 per cent.

Source: YouGov for Channel 4 News

Others said that children of the 80s and 90s were more active, that “severe immigration” was not a problem and that children were less vulnerable to “grooming gangs”.

Safer?

A large number claimed that it was “safer” in the eighties and nineties – though crime figures suggest this may not have been the case.

Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Socrates, 400BC

The Crime Survey for England and Wales says that in 1983 there were 11,901 crimes committed – 10 years later this had risen to 18,355. The latest figures, however, suggest that crime has now fallen to 7,549 crimes in 2013.

Violent crime has also fallen – starting at 1,998 incidents in 1983, rising to 3,515 in 1994 and falling to 1,537.

‘Rose-tinted’

People who responded that they did not agree that it was a better time to raise children 20 to 30 years ago wrote on Facebook that people look at the past with “rose-tinted spectacles”.

Kevin Mundy wrote that 20 to 30 years was not a better time to be a child “if you were a gay kid, or black or Asian or dual heritage. Rose tinted glasses make you blind!”

Tim Delaney wrote: “1984-1994? I don’t think so. Those were the years of Thatcherite cuts to public services, beggars on the streets, the police used against the miners, the worst years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland (picture, below), riots in Tottenham, Toxteth, Newcastle etc.”

Children in the Troubles

Indeed, statistics also show that infant mortality, unemployment and child poverty were all higher in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Another Facebook user pointed to a famous quote from Socrates, who wrote around 2,500 years ago: “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

The YouGov poll also showed that the majority of Ukip voters are of an older generation (76 per cent were over 40) compared with 57 per cent of Labour voters, 62 per cent of Conservative voters and 60 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters.

The party with the most appeal for people aged 18-40 was the Green party – 53 per cent of voters were in this age bracket.

Some 87 per cent of Ukip voters feel that “politicians don’t listen to the likes of me”, compared with 55 per cent of Conservative voters, 77 per cent of Labour voters, 64 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters and 78 per cent of Green party voters.

What do you think? Tell Channel 4 News on our Facebook page.