UK: Bad press slows adoptions of boys

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[9 November 2008] - Negative images of boys are making people less willing to adopt them, a national adoption agency has said.

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) said that at one of its "hard-to-place" agencies, 63% of cases were boys.

The BAAF is concerned that people are put off adopting boys by constant negative portrayals in the media.

An ICM poll for the BAAF found more than half of those asked felt boys were portrayed in an overly negative light.

'Boys are children too'

David Holmes, chief executive of BAAF, said: "Too often anti-social behaviour, violence, crime and gangs are associated in our minds when we think about boys.

"We all need to remember that boys are children and young people first. The findings of this research concerns us as we are worried that some prospective adopters might be put off adopting boys because of negative perceptions.

"In reality there is little evidence to show that boys really are more difficult. We would urge people to remember that boys need adopting too."

Of two national services run by the BAAF that attempt to find homes for hard-to-place children, in 2005 to 2006, one had 63% referrals who were boys and 37% who were girls; and the other had 56% referrals who were boys compared to 44% girls.

A BAAF spokeswoman said these are UK-wide services with 1,500 to 2,000 referrals a year.

She said the discrepancy between the adoption rate of boys and girls had concerned the agency for some time and that the BAAF commissioned the ICM poll to investigate what underpins the problem and to start discussion on the issue.

The poll found 53% of the people surveyed said they felt the media portrayed boys in an overly negative way.

'Not talked about'

Men felt this more than women, with 55% of men agreeing, compared to 50% of women.

People aged 18 to 24 were most likely to feel that the media portrayed boys in an overly negative way, with 67% agreeing with the statement.

Older people were the least likely to agree with the statement, with only 48% agreeing.

The BAAF spokeswoman told the BBC: "It's something that not a lot of people talk about, people do talk about black and ethnic minority children, and in fact we do need to highlight this issue that boys are waiting longer."

The poll was commissioned to raise awareness of the issue ahead of National Adoption Week which runs from 10 to 16 November.

pdf: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7718572.stm

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