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
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.
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
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
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
"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