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Charity warning as English kids score badly in happiness survey

By Sally Wardle

Published 19/08/2015

Schoolchildren in England are among the most unhappy in the world, faring worse than those in Ethiopia, Algeria and Romania, a charity has warned
Schoolchildren in England are among the most unhappy in the world, faring worse than those in Ethiopia, Algeria and Romania, a charity has warned

Schoolchildren in England are among the most unhappy in the world, faring worse than those in Ethiopia, Algeria and Romania, a charity has warned.

English children ranked 14th out of 15 countries for overall life satisfaction, just ahead of South Korea, and scored low for aspects related to their "self" and school, according to research by the University of York in partnership with The Children's Society.

Romania came top, with just one in 100 (1.1%) of 10- and 12-year-olds saying they were unhappy with their "life as a whole", followed by Colombia, where it was one in 50 (2%). In England, one in 14 (7.1%) were unhappy.

The Good Childhood Report 2015, which examined 53,000 children's "subjective well-being" across 15 diverse countries, found levels of unhappiness at school increased with age, with less than half (43%) of year eights in England saying they enjoyed school compared to six out of 10 (61%) year six students.

The report also found worrying levels of bullying, with more than a third of students (38%) aged 10 and 12 reporting that they had been physically bullied in the past month. Half (50%) said they had felt excluded at school.

English girls ranked second lowest for happiness with their body confidence, self-confidence and appearance, rating their satisfaction as 7.3 out of 10 on average.

This places them just above South Korea, with a mean score of 7.1. Colombian girls topped the table for body confidence, with an average rating of 9.6, followed by Romania with 9.4. Matthew Reed, chief executive of the charity, said English schools should be legally required to provide counselling and that funding for children's mental health should be increased.

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