‘We need a radical new approach to childhood’

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The Children’s Society is calling for a radical new approach to childhood as landmark research unlocks the key to children’s happiness.

The Good Childhood Report 2012, launched by The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, reveals that at any moment half of a million children across the UK are unhappy with their lives.

It unveils six key priorities needed for a happy childhood, after interviewing more than 30,000 children aged eight to 16.

Children who have low levels of happiness are much less likely to enjoy being at home with their family, feel safe when with their friends, like the way they look and feel positive about their future. Children unhappy in this way are also more likely to be victimised, have eating disorders or be depressed.

Key findings in The Good Childhood Report 2012 include:

> Choice and family have the biggest impact on children’s happiness.

> It is not the structure, but the relationships within a family that children care about. Loving relationships between a child and their family are ten times more powerful than family structure in increasing well-being.

> Stability is important. Children who experience a change in family members they are living with are twice as likely to experience low well-being. Almost a quarter (23%) of children who have moved home more than once over the past 12 months have low levels of well-being.

> Low well-being increases dramatically with age – doubling from the age of 10 (7%) to the age of 15 (14%).

> Children as young as eight are aware of the financial issues their families face. Children in families who have experienced a reduction in income are more likely to have low well-being.

> Children who do not have clothes to ‘fit in’ with peers are more than three times as likely to be unhappy with their appearance. Around a third say they often worry about the way they look. Unhappiness with appearance increases with age and is greater among girls.

> Children who had been bullied more than three times over the last three months were significantly more likely to experience low well-being (36%) than those that had never been bullied (6%).

> Children like to be similar to their friends. Children who have a lot less, or even a lot more pocket money than their friends, have lower levels of well-being.

The charity argues that there are six priorities needed for a happy childhood. A supplementary report, Promoting Positive Well Being for Children, also published today, sets out how they should be adopted by Government and others as priorities when devising new policies that impact on children’s lives. These are:

> The right conditions to learn and develop

> A positive view of themselves and a respect for their identity

> Enough of the items and experiences that matter to them

> Positive relationships with their family and friends

> A safe and suitable home environment and local area

> The opportunities to take part in positive activities that help them thrive.

To read more about The Good Childhood 2012 click here