Thursday, 12 January 2012

New reports about children and young people

Lots of important new research has been published recently.

The Children’s Society launched the Good Childhood Report 2012 today (summary here). Shockingly, half a million children in the UK are unhappy with their lives. The Society identifies the components of well-being for children. These are some of the key findings:

  • Family is the most important component of most children’s happiness.
  • It is not the structure, but the relationships within a family that children care about.
  • Stability is important. Changes in family structure and frequent changes of home significantly impact on children’s well-being.
  • Low well-being increases with age, doubling from age 10 to 15.
  • Children living in the poorest 20% of households have much lower well-being than average.
  • Children who feel they spend too little time with family and friends tend to have lower well-being.
  • Autonomy and choice are very important to children’s well-being.
  • At 15 56% of girls and 32% of boys are unhappy with their appearance.
  • School and education are key factors influencing well-being.
  • Children who have been bullied are significantly more likely to experience low well-being than those who have not.

We know that child poverty has major consequences for children’s well-being and prospects. Another useful and disturbing report published by End Child Poverty this month highlights the scale of child poverty in the UK, and provides maps and tables.

In the light of the fact that spending time with family is so important, it is depressing to read evidence from children’s communication charity I CAN that work pressures are having a major effect on the amount of time parents talk to their children. In addition to the inevitable impact this has on children’s happiness, it is deeply worrying in terms of what it means for children’s speaking and understanding skills and their ability to learn.