UK children are among the laziest in the world, survey finds

British youngsters are among the least likely to help around the house, or to do their homework, according to a study of eight-year-olds


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The Independent Online

Only half of UK children help around the home every day, ranking above only youngsters in Germany and South Korea, a survey has found.

Although this may frustrate parents, teachers have little to be happy about either as the Children’s World study also found that British children do the least homework of the countries investigated.

Results suggest only 42 per cent of British children do homework every day, which put them at the bottom of the list below Ethiopia, where 61 per cent of youngsters do their homework daily.

The survey was completed by 17,000 eight-year-olds from 16 countries, with nearly 1,000 children from the UK taking part.

It aims to provide a “fresh perspective” on the lives of young people across the world, and asked children about key aspects of their lives, such as family and home life, friendships, money and possessions, school life, local area, use of their time, personal well-being and overall happiness.

Although UK youngsters ranked the people they live with, health, and safety, highly in their responses, there were many areas which returned less positive results.

In addition to housework and homework, the survey found British children are not especially fond of school, with only German children disliking it more. 

More than half of the boys said that they liked school, but less than 40 per cent of girls felt the same way.

Some of the problems highlighted by the report included a poor relationship with teachers, in which the UK ranked 14th out of the 16 countries, and being hit by other children in school, something which 54 per cent of boys and 61 per cent of girls said had happened “at least once in the last month”. 

The report also found “life satisfaction” was low, with the UK only ranking above Nepal and Ethiopia, while it found itself in the bottom five for “satisfaction with family life”.

However, the report noted that those countries – South Africa, Ethiopia, Malta, Nepal, and the UK – with low family life satisfaction were “highly diverse”, which was a likely factor.  

Finally, British children also seem to have low self-esteem when it comes to body issues, ranking 12th for “body satisfaction” and 14th for appearance.

Gwyther Rees, of the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York, which conducted the research in England, said: “There are some quite troubling messages from England and the picture is quite similar to what we found with older age groups. 

“Children are happy at home and with friends but less happy at school where there seems to be an issue around bullying and being left out.”

Meanwhile, Sam Royston, Policy Director at The Children’s Society, said: “It’s deeply worrying that eight-year-old children living in England are less happy than children living in a wide range of other countries across the world. 

“The Government should consider making it a legal requirement for schools in England to provide counselling and to allocate children’s mental health funding to promote children’s well-being, rather than just dealing with mental health problems after they occur. 

“Giving children a happy childhood should be a top priority,” she concluded.

The countries included in the survey are: Algeria, Columbia, Estonia, Ethiopia, Germany, Israel, Malta, Nepal, Norway, Poland, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the UK.