Our key findings
- Average happiness with life among 10 to 15 year olds in the UK continues to decline
- Children are becoming less happy with their friendships
- 15 year olds in the UK are among the saddest and least satisfied with their lives in Europe
- The Coronavirus pandemic has left many children feeling they lack choices in life.
Children’s happiness with life has been in decline for most of the last decade and this year is no exception. Worries about relationships with friends, appearance and school seem to be key factors. Even before the pandemic, 15 year olds in the UK were among the saddest and least satisfied with their lives in Europe. It is time to listen to what young people need.
As we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, we can hit the restart button. We need to kick-start a decade of renewal for young people.
High ranking in Europe
We compared children's well-being in the UK with 21 other European countries. We rank highly, but for the wrong reasons.
The UK showed the largest drop in life satisfaction between 2015 and 2018 of these comparable countries. In Europe, young people in the UK are some of least satisfied with their lives.
Good childhood map
fear of failing
Fear of failure
Perhaps this is down to a fear of failure. Our report highlights the high levels of ‘fear of failure’ among 15 year olds in the UK compared to other countries. Many felt their life didn’t have a sense of purpose.
With exam stress, bullying, and school culture, more and more young people are becoming unhappy with school.
Our education system needs a rethink. Well-being and academic achievement should go hand-in-hand.
One of the most concerning trends is the decline in children’s friendships. There are an estimated 132,000 children aged 10 to 15 in this country have no close friends. Some link this trend to social media, but it is more complicated than this.
Outside of school there is a crucial role for Youth Services in improving well-being and helping young people form strong peer relationships.