The Children’s Society has published its annual ‘Good Childhood Report’ which finds that since 2009, children and young people have become increasingly unhappy. According to the report, there are an estimated 250,000 children who report that they are unhappy with their lives. Whilst the reasons for this are complex, there are some trends with children reporting they are less happy with their friends than previous years with factors such as bullying, the effects of social media as well as spending less face to face time together outside of school all playing a role.
The three factors which were found to have the largest influence on a child’s well-being were experiencing bullying in the last three months, not feeling safe at school and suffering from material deprivation but there was no consistent gender difference for happiness with life as a whole, with family, friends or school. Compared to previous years, it is clear that boys’ happiness with their appearance is decreasing and the gap between girls and boys in this regard is narrowing. There are now significantly more boys unhappy with their appearance in 2016-17 than compared to 2009-10.
Girls were found to be more likely to be worried in all areas than boys with the largest gap in worrying about their mental health. Older children aged 14 to 17 were more likely to be worried than younger children aged 10 to 13 about having no job, not having enough money, having a home to live in or their mental health. In addition, children living in poverty were significantly more likely to be worried about having a home to live in, enough money and their future mental health.
The Children’s Society is calling upon the Prime Minister to introduce a national measurement of children’s well-being in England to inform policy making and public service delivery.
The report can be found in full, here.