Growing number of children unhappy with lives in UK, study suggests

Nearly a quarter of a million children are unhappy in the UK, according to new research by a children’s charity.

It is the lowest rate of happiness among the nation’s youngsters since 2009, the Children’s Society found.

The charity’s annual Good Childhood Report, released on Wednesday, shows around 219,000 children are unhappy with the state of their lives.

It found issues around friendship, money and school are increasingly affecting their quality of life.

One in 12 boys aged between 10 and 15 were found to have concerns about their appearance, and the gap between girls and boys has narrowed since last year.

Research also found there was a 7% gap in happiness between children in families experiencing financial strain compared to those with financial security.

A third of children between 10 and 17 reported they were worried about not having enough money in the future.

Children’s happiness with their friendships has also decreased by 2.8% since last year.

The charity added wider research suggests this could be caused by a range of factors including bullying, loneliness and excessive social media use.

Some primary school children are also worried about wider social issues as around 40% of 10 to 17-year-olds said they were concerned about crime and the environment.

The Children’s Society has now called for an annual national measurement of children’s wellbeing in secondary schools.

Mark Russell, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Modern childhood is a happy and carefree time for most, yet for too many it is not.

“It is a national scandal that children’s unhappiness is increasing so quickly.

“Today’s young people are becoming progressively unhappy with their friendships, one of the fundamental building blocks of well-being, as well as appearance and school.

“Children are also burdened with fears ranging from worrying about the future, not having enough money to not feeling safe at school and bullying.”

He added: “Many young people tell us they feel sidelined and ignored by those in power.

“We are urging the Government to introduce a national measurement of children’s well-being so we can really listen, respond and show young people they matter.

“Together we can build a brighter future and bring optimism and confidence back to being young.”

The charity has launched a pop-up shop in London to coincide with the release of the report.

The Store of Modern Childhood shows shelves of unsettling products as a representation of the challenges children face, including stab vests, a make-up station with “bruise hider” and “anxiety concealer” in addition to phone cases with bullying messages on.

It also features a Gallery of Optimism filled with objects that represent the joys of a good childhood featuring art and stories from young people helped by the charity.

Peter Grigg, director of external affairs at the Children’s Society, said: “Our research confirms increasing unhappiness in children and young people across the UK.

“Through the Store of Modern Childhood, the shocking lived reality for too many children is brought to public attention so we can set about changing this.”

The pop-up will be open on Wednesday and Thursday at Carousel Spaces, Baker Street, London.

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