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UK >

Good Childhood survey highlights anxieties

by a staff reporter


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Credit: iSTOCK

ONE in eight English children who took part in a survey said that they were so worried about their appearance that it made them unhappy, and affected their self-esteem.

Girls were particularly prone to worrying about their appearance, and the problem increased as the girls entered their teens. Young people of 14 and 15 reported the lowest feeling of well-being among children, although boys tended to be happier than girls.

The figures emerged from The Good Childhood Report 2014, published yesterday by the Children's Society. The report suggested that girls were twice as likely as boys to feel unhappy about the way they looked - 18 per cent of girls, compared with nine per cent of boys.

And, as young children became teenagers, more of them worried about their appearance - 17 per cent of children aged 12 to 13, compared with nine per cent of ten-to-11-year-olds.a When data was compared with ten other countries, English children came ninth when asked about their happiness and well-being, behind children in Romania, Brazil, and Algeria, but ahead of Uganda and South Korea. Compared with children in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, English children were slightly less happy. About half a million have a low sense of esteem. 


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No more purple: the Children's Society is changing its brand for the first time in 16 years. "The black and white emphasises the serious nature of the charity's work," a statement said on Wednesday


No more purple: the Children's Society is changing its brand for the first time in 16 years. "The black and white emphasises the serious nature of the charity's work," a statement said on Wednesday

When asked about money and possessions, most children in England were happy, but children from poorer homes had lower feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Children who felt poorer than their friends were twice as likely to say that they were unhappy.

The survey also found that regular exercise boosted happiness levels, and that children who used computers and the internet regularly had a higher sense of well-being than those who did not. It also suggested a link to parental depression.

Levels of well-being among children dropped slightly in 2008 - the same year as the economic crisis - and have remained level since then.

The report was carried out in collaboration with the University of York, and is the most extensive research programme on children's well-being in the world. It surveys 50,000 young people each year.

The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed, said: "Childhood is a happy time for the vast majority in this country. But we can't shut our eyes and ears to the half a million children who say that they are unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives.

"This new report lifts the lid on the fact that we're lagging behind so many other countries, including developing nations.

"Children with low well-being are more likely to experience serious issues, such as poor outcomes related to school, family, and their health. It's crucial that all of us - from policymakers to parents and teachers - listen very closely to what they have to say."

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