Posted: 02 September 2019

Good Childhood Report: 17 year old reacts to this year's top findings

Each year, we examine the well-being of children and young people in the UK. This year's Good Childhood Report reveals that children's happiness with life is at its lowest since 2009. It cites issues around boy's appearance, friendships and school as potential driving factors. 

We asked Jimena, who is 17 years old, to share her thoughts on some of this year's findings.

So, what's it like being a young person in 2019?

There are many expectations set for us and they come from different sources, for instance, our parents and teachers. We have our whole life ahead of us so they want to make sure we “succeed in life”, but they may not realise our definitions of success might differ.

Because of this we are pressured into making decisions we’re unsure about and get stressed over exam after exam, so that we don’t disappoint our older generations. As a result, we have low satisfaction with school work and school in general.

Our report found that 1 in 8 children are unhappy with school. Bullying and not feeling safe at school are among a range of factors linked to low well-being. There were also links between income poverty and financial strain and unhappiness with school. 

Young people are also unhappy about appearance, material things, and the future. I believe this all comes down to the outside pressures we’re under.

This year, we found a significant decline in boys’ happiness with their appearance. For years, we have reported girls’ struggles with how they look, but the latest data shows the gap is narrowing as more and more boys are affected by the societal pressures about how they should look.  

Every day, we check our phones and social media reminds us of what we’re expected to look like, dress like, what shoes we should have and also, it shows us news about our future such as climate change and brexit. All of these are constant reminders of what’s wrong with our lives today and what will or could be wrong with our lives tomorrow.  

'Brexit, crime and global warming are going to get worse' - Female, Year 8

As a seventeen year-old I get asked about my future quite a lot; What do you want to study at university? What job do you want to have? Will you get the grades you need? What university do you want to go to? Do you want to go to university? Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.

Every year, low overall well-being is closely linked with young people's feelings about the future. We found that a third of 10-17 year olds worry about having enough money in the future, with more than a quarter worrying about getting a job.

Although it might be daunting, thinking about our future can also be exciting. We’ll be able to have more freedom, shape our lives however we want to, take responsabilities for our actions and have a voice to change our future.

'I think younger people should be able to have their say because it affects us more'

Many young people feel frustrated because they can’t vote, however, this is not the only way we can influence the decisions being made.

By listening to young people, we can help them overcome the challenges of modern childhood and face their future with hope and confidence.

We need to demand that those in power listen to what young people are saying and take action to change things for the next decade.

PLEDGE #IHEARYOUTH

By Jimena
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