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Schools 'uniquely placed to tackle body image problems in students'

18/01/2017 Joanna

Schools have been urged to do more to help students who may be struggling with body positivity problems that are impairing their mental health and ability to participate fully in social activities.

The Be Real Campaign, which was set up by YMCA and Dove in 2014, has launched a new Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools to help tackle self-image problems in the classroom.

Research from the organisation has shown that 30 per cent of more than 2,000 secondary school pupils surveyed would isolate themselves to avoid activities because of low body confidence, while 52 per cent regularly worry about how they look and 63 per cent view what other people think of their looks as being important to them.

With 57 per cent being willing to go on a diet to change the way they look and one in ten even considering cosmetic surgery, it is clear that this preoccupation is widespread, and yet 18 per cent of teachers surveyed said they did not feel confident talking about body confidence with pupils.

Of those students who learned about body confidence as part of their curriculum, 76 per cent said it made them feel more positive about themselves, but only 48 per cent said they had learned about this issue in the classroom.

Given that this report shows that young people are often isolating themselves and potentially laying the groundwork for long-term physical or mental health difficulties due to their body image concerns, it was concluded that schools should be doing much more to tackle the problem.

Denise Hatton, chief executive of the National Council of YMCAs in England and Wales, said: "Evidence shows that schools are uniquely placed to support young people to hold positive discussions around body image with their peers and help reduce the negative impact low body confidence can have."

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