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The Good Childhood Report 2022

Our Good Childhood Report 2022 shows the latest trends in children's wellbeing. Our research seeks to understand how young people feel about different aspects of their lives. This year we've found that school, friendships and appearance continue to cause the greatest dissatisfaction in adolescence.


The Children's Society

Number of pages:

77 pages

Date published:

The state of children's wellbeing in 2022

Our Good Childhood report 2022 has revealed a deeply concerning continuing decline in children’s wellbeing.  

This year’s report shows that around 1 in 16 children (6%) aged 10 to 15 in the UK are unhappy with their lives, and almost 1 in 8 (12%), an estimated 562,000 of 10-15 year olds, are unhappy with school.

The report has been published in a period of unprecedented uncertainty for children, young people and families in the UK, as society continues to find its way through new Covid variants, a cost-of-living crisis, and the impact of global events such as the war in Ukraine.  

Yet, none of these circumstances can excuse the harmful downward trend in young people’s happiness shown in the report. 

Measuring children’s wellbeing is essential to understanding how children feel about their wellbeing as a whole, and about specific aspects of their lives. It can help highlight issues faced by young people and identify groups in need of our support. The understanding from their insights is crucial in developing powerful responses to help improve things for children and young people. 

Wellbeing ‘is about “how we are doing” as individuals, communities and as a nation and how sustainable this is for the future.’ (What Works Centre for Wellbeing, 2022)

What does the report reveal? 

As expected, the current cost of living crisis is having a significant effect on families, with 85% of parents and carers surveyed in 2022 saying they are concerned about how it will affect their families in the next year, especially as over a third of parents and carers reported they already struggled with costs of school trips and uniform over the last year.

The report also reveals that girls are significantly more unhappy with their appearance than boys, with almost 1 in 5 (18%) - the equivalent of an estimated 411,000 of 10–15-year-old girls unhappy with their looks compared to 10% of boys. This is a worrying jump for girls from 1 in 7 (15%) being unhappy with their appearance ten years ago.
The pandemic’s damaging impact is laid bare, with 1 in 9 children (11% aged 10 to 17) saying they did not cope overall with changes due to Coronavirus, despite many of the restrictions being lifted when the survey was taken. Months of lost learning, facing in-person exams for the first time and mounting pressure could all have had a detrimental effect on children’s wellbeing. 

As a society we’re all gravely concerned. We owe it to this generation and the next to take action right away. 

The continuing trend revealed by the report is hugely concerning. This year’s report explores young people’s experiences of school, with an unacceptably large proportion of the classroom unhappy with school and thousands of girls unhappy with the way they look. We know that schools are a vital setting to support young people and improve their wellbeing, but schools need more support.  

GCR graphic

85% of parents and carers are worried about cost of living

How can we help?

We’re a caring and concerned society. It’s natural for us to want to improve young people’s life chances. But what do we need do to? Well, we need a holistic response that helps support young people at home, in education and in the community. 

  • At schools we need to see a faster rollout of mental health support teams, alongside early support hubs in every community so that no young person has to wait for the help they deserve. 

We need more support for those families hardest hit by the added pressures of increasing costs: 

  • We need a permanent boost to the social security lifeline, to protect children from the cost-of-living crisis; including a significant increase in child benefit payments 
  • We need to extend help with school lunches and make free school meals available to every child whose family is supported by Universal Credit. 

No child should suffer without support. Every child deserves a good childhood with access to the help they need. 

This year’s report confirms a continuing horrifying trend. Young people's wellbeing has got significantly worse over the last decade. This is simply unacceptable. The impact of this will be felt for generations unless we act without delay. Decision makers must act now so that all children can thrive, be healthy, and reach their full potential.