500,000 children in Britain 'unhappy,' says new study


Half a million school children in Britain are unhappy with their lives, according to a new study published today.

The Good Childhood Report 2012 found that one in 11 youngsters (9%) aged between eight and 15 have a low well-being at any given time.

It also revealed that unhappiness increases dramatically with age - more than tripling from the age of eight (4%) to the age of 15 (14%).

The Children's Society, which published the report, said children with low levels of happiness are much less likely to enjoy being at home with their family, feel safe when with their friends, like the way they look and feel positive about their future.

They are also more likely to be victimised, have eating disorders or be depressed, it said.

The study, launched today by The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, saw experts analyse the interviews of more than 30,000 children aged eight to 15.

It found that family has the biggest impact on their happiness, with loving relationships between a child and their family 10 times more powerful than family structure in increasing well-being.

Researchers discovered that stability was also an important factor in young people's well-being, with children who experience a change in the people they live with twice as likely to be unhappy.

Almost a quarter (23%) of children who have moved home more than once in the past year also showed low levels of well-being.

Elsewhere, researchers found that children liked to be similar to their peers, with those who have a lot less, or even a lot more pocket money having lower levels of well-being.

Material factors were also of deep importance, according to the study, with children in families who have experienced a reduction in income more likely to have low well-being.

Youngsters also were three times more likely to be unhappy with their appearance if they did not have clothes to "fit in" with their peers, with the trend increasing in age and among girls.

Elaine Hindal, the society's childhood director, said: "We are calling for a radical new approach to childhood, placing their wellbeing at the heart of everything we do. Our research has exposed that how children feel really matters.

"We know that, right now, half a million children are unhappy. We have discovered the key reasons for this unhappiness and what we can do to make it better. We want our country to be the best place for our children to grow up. Yet unless we act now we risk becoming one of the worst and creating a lost future generation."

Dr Sentamu added: "The moral test for any society is how it treats its most vulnerable, including its children.

"The fact that at any one time half a million children are unhappy with their lives should be a wake-up call to us all."

The charity made a series of recommendations on how to improve the well-being of youngsters, identifying six "key priorities" that were essential for a happy childhood.

They include the right conditions for a child to learn and develop, positive relationships with their family and friends, a safe and suitable home environment and local area and the opportunities to take part in positive activities that help them thrive.

The charity also said children needed to have a positive view of themselves and a respect for their identity and enough of the items and experiences that matter to them to have a positive well-being.


peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam