A public opinion poll published by The Children’s Society, as part of its ongoing Good Childhood® Inquiry, reveals mounting concern about children’s mental health and well being. When asked to rate children’s happiness today compared to when they were growing up, only one in ten (9%) respondents felt children nowadays are happier.
The Children’s Society commissioned the GfK NOP poll to complement the launch of a summary of the evidence submitted to the inquiry on its fifth theme - children’s health. Professionals and members of the public submitted evidence on a variety of health concerns but a large number of responses highlighted an issue barely acknowledged by past generations: children’s mental health and well being.
Adults’ concerns echo what children themselves have told The Good Childhood Inquiry. In a survey of 8,000 14-16 year olds, carried out by The Children’s Society as part of the inquiry, 27% of young people agreed with the statement ‘I often feel depressed’ (1). In a separate online vote, conducted by CBBC Newsround for the inquiry, 78% of those who voted said they felt fine, good or really good about their health; however a worrying 22% felt bad or really bad (2). Many also said they felt under pressure to look good, with seven out of ten admitting they dieted some or all of the time (3).
A number of children submitting evidence commented on the importance of being free from stress, pressure and worry. In some cases they explicitly linked pressure to school, the influence of peers, bullying, family expectations and their looks (4). Interestingly when asked what has the most negative impact on children’s well-being generally, adults responding to the GfK NOP poll rated family breakdown and conflict (29%) and peer pressure (23%) highly.
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