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Study warns of potential rise in numbers of unhappy children

25/07/2013 Joanna
A charity has highlighted issues with wellbeing among British children and particularly young teenagers, which also pose challenges to their secondary teachers.

The Children's Society's 'Good Childhood Report 2013', based on a poll of around 42,000 children aged eight-to-17, indicates children experienced a rise in wellbeing between 1994 and 2008, but that this trend has since stalled and may even have gone into reverse.

While its index of overall wellbeing shows the average child has a score of between 14 and 15 out of 20 for life satisfaction, around ten per cent are rated at below the midpoint on this scale.

Dissatisfaction tends to escalate as children enter adolescence, with mean satisfaction declining from 15.1 for eight-year-olds to a rating of 13 for 15-year-olds, before climbing again to 13.2 for 16 and 17-year-olds.

Young teenagers appear to be particularly troubled by the future, school, the choices they have and their appearance, scoring less than seven out of ten on average on these indicators at the ages of 14 and 15.

Whereas only 19 per cent of children with average-to-high levels of wellbeing said they did not look forward to going school, this rose to 51 per cent for pupils with low wellbeing.

Children's Society chief executive Matthew Reed commented: "These startling findings show that we should be paying particular attention to improving the happiness of this country’s teenagers.

"These findings clearly show that we can’t simply dismiss their low well-being as inevitable 'teen grumpiness'."

With children with low life satisfaction ratings also more likely to experience poor outcomes, including in relation to school, the charity believes wellbeing indicators could be used to identify problems in pupils' lives at an early stage and facilitate timely interventions.

This follows a recent survey of young adults by mental health charity MindFull, which revealed that one in five respondents had shown signs of depression before they turned 16.

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-801616905-ADNFCR
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