International study shows UK children are being failed, says Children's Society

By agency reporter
May 21, 2020

The Children’s Society has responded to the new WHO/HSBC survey into children’s health and well-being. The report shows substantial variation in mental well-being across countries. The WHO says this indicates that cultural, policy and economic factors may play a role in fostering good mental well-being.

The study shows that average life satisfaction scores for children in each age group in England (11, 13 and 15) consistently fall in the bottom quarter of the 45 countries taking part. It shows that 11-year-olds and 13-year-olds in England rank in the bottom three for life satisfaction among 45 countries.  

Other key findings include 

  • Adolescents from more affluent families in all countries reported higher levels of life satisfaction, but the well-being gap between the most and least affluent families in England is one of the largest in the study (along with Estonia and Latvia) 
  • 15 year olds in Wales and Scotland are in the bottom quarter for their average life satisfaction but 11 and 13 year olds in Wales and Scotland score better.

Richard Crellin, Policy Manager at The Children’s Society, which has found through its annual Good Childhood Report that on average, children’s happiness with life as a whole has fallen over the last seven years, said: “It’s shocking that our children are so much less happy with their lives compared to those in other countries.   

“The UK entered the Covid crisis with some of the lowest levels of children’s well-being in Europe and on the back of a decade of cuts to children’s services and rising levels of child poverty. 

“As lockdown begins to ease, and the impact of the crisis on children’s mental health and well-being becomes clear, policy-makers should sit up and pay attention.  

“We need to transform children’s lives. That means more investment from the Government to renew children’s services, roll out additional community support to prevent mental ill-health and to help lift families out of poverty. 

“As a country, we need to listen to children more. That’s why it’s vital the Government commits to introducing an annual national measurement of children’s well-being. Children are telling us, loud and clear, that they are being failed.” 

* Read Spotlight on adolescent health and wellbeing here

* World Health Organisation http://www.euro.who.int/en/home

* The Children's Society https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/

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