How do children feel about the area they live in?
In each wave of our quarterly survey, in addition to the 15 questions that make up The Good Childhood Index, we ask about one or more other topics that may be linked to well-being. In Wave 4 the topic was children’s views about their local area.
We chose this topic because it is a key issue which children have raised in our consultations about children’s well-being.
We asked children three questions about each of three different aspects about their local area – local facilities, local people and safety/freedom. These three themes were identified from our consultations with young people. The sets of questions we asked were developed from young people’s views and then tested in our well-being survey in 2008. They were found to have good statistical reliability.
So for example, under the theme of local facilities we asked children to respond to the statement ‘There are lots of fun things to do where I live’. A summary of the answers is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: There are lots of fun things to do where I live
Example of statements for the other two themes are ‘I like my neighbours’ and ‘I feel safe when I am out in my local area during the day’.
By adding the answers to each set of questions we were able to calculate an overall score (from 0 to 12) for each of the three aspects of local area. These scores can be used to compare the views of different groups. Here we compare ratings of local areas by gender and age group.
- There were only small differences in how females and males rated their local area (see Figure 2). The only aspect where there was a significant gender difference was for ratings of safety/freedom. Girls tended to give this aspect lower ratings than boys. Further analysis shows that this difference reflected concerns about safety at night. There was no gender difference for feelings about safety during the day or for levels of freedom in the local area.
- There were significant age differences in terms of two of the three local area themes measured (see Figure 3). Older children (aged 12 to 15) were less positive about local people, and much less positive about local facilities than younger children (aged 8 to 11). There were no age differences for safety/freedom.
Figure 2: Views of local area – differences by gender
Figure 3: Views of local area – differences by age group
We were also able to explore the links between young people’s views of their local area and their well-being. We found that there is a significant link between these two things, particularly for older children in the 12 to 15 age group. For this age group, all three ratings of the local area had a significant statistical association with children’s overall level of well-being.
The Good Childhood Index, and the extra questions about local area, are freely available to use. If you would be interested in using the questions, or in receiving more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.