Posted: 27 August 2019

Good Childhood Report: what did we learn about young people in 2019?

Every year we publish our Good Childhood Report, a comprehensive study of children and young people's well-being. Here are this year's top findings:

Children are less happy than they were in 2009

It’s the key finding of this year’s Good Childhood Report. It’s the reason why our well-being research is so critical. With their overall life satisfaction in decline, it’s crucial we do something – by our estimates there are now almost a quarter of a million children who are unhappy with their lives.

It’s incredibly challenging to explain why this is happening – well-being is complex and affected by everything from our family and friends to our appearance and health. Every child is different. But the latest evidence suggests some important trends that we really need to pay attention to.

Children are less happy with their friends

We all know that making and sustaining friendships requires hard work but this year’s data suggests children are finding it particularly hard right now. Often, the friends we make as children can last for life, but perhaps for this generation of children that might not be the case.

We cannot provide a concrete answer we do think there are some important factors that might help us to understand why children are becoming unhappier with their friends. Children themselves talk a lot about the effects of social media and digital life more generally. Wider evidence suggests that factors like bullying and spending face to face time together outside of school is important.

Boys’ happiness with their appearance is in decline

For years, we have reported on the struggles girls have with their appearance. Girls remain unhappier with their appearance than boys. But the large gap between boys and girls that we used to observe is narrowing. We spoke to some boys about this issue to try and learn more. Gym memberships, protein shakes and living up to the body image ideals of everyone from Love Island contestants to Hollywood film stars all came up in our conversations.

There is lots of food for thought

Alongside friendships and appearance, this year’s report has lots more issues to explore – there is worrying data about how children are feeling about school, and we dive into issues like family finances, young people’s fears for the future and what it’s like to grow up living with multiple challenges in your life – like problems at school, in your neighbourhood, or at home.

Help us turn things around

Our well-being research is all about listening to children and young people, taking their views seriously and responding to them. Things do not have to be this way. Children do not have to be unhappy with their appearance or with their friends – these trends do not hold internationally. That means we can change them.

That’s why this year we are calling for comprehensive national measurement of children’s well-being. It’s crucial that our politicians are able to properly listen to and understand the lives of children. Without good data they are just guessing – often remembering their own childhood and thinking the same rules still apply. It’s not good enough.

We have to listen to our young people and show them they matter. Help us to put children’s well-being at the top of the political agenda by signing our petition.

SIGN our Petition

By Richard Crellin - Policy team

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Good Childhood Report 2019

Posted: 27 August 2019