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‘Children’s well-being should be at the heart of policy-making’

12 January 2012

by a staff reporter

Promoting happiness: children need opportunities to thrive Shutterstock.com

Promoting happiness: children need opportunities to thrive Shutterstock.com

MAKING children happy should be a priority at the heart of all government policy, the Children’s Society has said.

In a foreword to the Society’s latest report, The Good Childhood Report 2012, the Arch­bishop of York, Dr Sentamu, says that the latest findings, which suggest that half a million children in the UK suffer from a sense of low well-being, should be a “wake-up call to us all”.

The report sets out six priorities for pro­moting the happiness of children for the Govern­ment to consider when it draws up new policies.

The six priorities are having: the right conditions to learn; a positive view of themselves; enough of the items that matter; positive relationships at home and with friends; a safe home and local environment; and opportunities to thrive.

The Children’s Society has been researching the factors that affect children’s well-being since 2005; it is carrying out regular surveys with children aged from eight to 15. The findings of the first surveys make up the basis of the evidence in the report. It found that family relationships were the most important contributor to children’s well-being, but that the structure of the family — whether single-parent, partnered, or married — made little difference.

Stability was also important: a quarter of children who had moved home more than once were found to have low levels of well-being.

The older children were, the more likely they were to experience low well-being, as un­happiness doubled from the age of ten to the age of 14.

Peer pressure had a huge impact on children’s state of mind — they wanted to have the same as their friends. Research found that having a great deal more pocket money, as well as having a great deal less, lowered their sense of well-being.

The director of the Children’s Society, Elaine Hindal, said: “We are calling for a radical new approach to child­hood, placing their well-being at the heart of everything we do. We urge Government and other policy-makers to use the six priorities we have pinpointed.”

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