Fear of crime is damaging the wellbeing of 203,000 teenagers in the West Midlands, with one in three teenage girls fearful of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys worried they’ll be assaulted, new research from The Children’s Society reveals.

The charity’s 2017 Good Childhood Report has found that an estimated 96,000 older children in the region are contending with at least seven serious problems in their lives, significantly harming their happiness. Fear of crime has emerged as the most widespread of the issues for children aged 10-17, with almost 2 in 5 worried about falling victim to two or more crimes.

One teenage girl interviewed by the charity said: “[They’re] blowing kisses, men beeping, standing asking [your] age, whistling, shouting stopping vans next to you, asking for [your] number.”

A 13 year old boy said: “You’ve got to fight to like kind of survive around this area. You have to stick up for yourself the whole time."

Closely following this fear were the worries of 194,000 teenagers in the West Midlands whose parents are struggling to pay the bills.

Its survey of 3,000 10-17 year olds revealed that more than half (53%) have experienced at least three hardships in the last five years, making them markedly unhappier. Teenagers who have experienced seven or more serious issues in their lives are ten times more likely to be unhappy than those who have experienced none.

The findings support The Children’s Society’s determination to focus more closely on helping children who are facing what it calls ‘multiple disadvantage’. Other disadvantages identified in the report include having a parent with a serious illness, suffering neglect and being at risk of homelessness.

The Children’s Society is calling for the government to urgently address the funding shortfall in children’s services – predicted to reach £2bn by 2020 – and for local government, police forces, schools and other local agencies to work together to improve the wellbeing of children in their area.