Call for PSHE to tackle disfigurement issues

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Changing Faces

​Less than a third of young people would be friends with someone who has a disfigurement and many admit to taking photos of someone with a visible difference.

Research published by the charity Changing Faces also reveals that appearance-related bullying gets worse as young people move to secondary school – with more than six in 10 teens being affected.

The research report – Looking Different – includes a CHILDWISE survey involving more than 1,500 young people aged from seven to 17. The majority said they have experienced nasty or negative comments about the way they look and most are made face-to-face (79 per cent) and by people at school (59 per cent).

Changing Faces is warning that the pressure on young people to look a certain way is creating an especially “hostile environment” for children who live with a disfigurement.
The research survey also finds that half of the young people questioned have witnessed negative behaviour towards a person with a visible difference and more than a third admit to having acted in a negative way themselves. Behaviour includes staring, pointing, saying something nasty, or taking a photo of them (one in six have, or know someone who has, taken a photo of someone with a visible difference).

Only three in 10 young people say they would like to be friends with somebody who has a visible difference (30 per cent).

There are 86,000 children of school age in the UK with a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different. The charity – which runs workshops and training in schools – wants to see the issue tackled as part of PSHE education.

Changing Faces has also developed new resources to help teachers support their pupils and talk about appearance-related bullying and visible difference.

Becky Hewitt, the charity’s CEO, said: “Every day children and teenagers are bombarded with messages telling them that they need to look a certain way. Magazine covers and social media portray such a narrow view of ‘beauty’, so looking different and having a visible difference in a society that wants you to look the same is tough.

“Reaching children when they’re young, so that they learn to value difference, is so important. Changing Faces wants a world where everyone with a visible difference on their face or body has the confidence, support and opportunity to lead the lives they want.”

Looking Different – The Future of Face Equality, Changing Faces, May 2018:


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