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06 Sep 2019

British children are not feeling happy. So says a new survey, which is sparking calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to place children’s wellbeing at the top of his agenda.

According to the latest installment of the annual Good Childhood report, more than 200,000 children in the UK are not happy with their lives.

This is the lowest level in a decade, and the first time since the survey and report was launched in 2009 that overall contentment among 10 to 15 year-olds has fallen below eight on a scale of one to ten.

The contentment rate comes in at 7.89, which is down from a high of 8.21 in 2011.

Almost five per cent of those surveyed reported happiness scores below five out of 10, which points to about 219,000 children in the UK being unhappy.

This all comes at a time when British adults’ wellbeing is being reported as improving.

The Children’s Society, which conducted the research, described the decline in childhood happiness as a national scandal. It has called on Mr Johnson to introduce a national measurement of children’s wellbeing.

“Children appear to be having declining happiness with their friends, which is concerning. And boys have seen a significant decline in how they feel about their appearance,” said the charity’s Richard Crellin.

“It is too soon to report a trend, but there were also big dips this year in happiness about school and schoolwork. If that continues it would suggest young people are finding school increasingly difficult.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We want young people growing up in a modern Britain to feel confident tackling the challenges life throws at them. That is why we’re giving teachers the power to deal with bad behaviour and bullying in the classroom, investing billions every year in mental health support for young people, and providing quicker access to specialist treatment where needed.”

But Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the report should act as wake-up call.

“Our children’s health should be a national priority, yet after nine years of austerity, the Government’s response to the issue of child health has been piecemeal as it continues to squeeze the NHS and take money from our public health system and schools,” he said.

The report is based on an annual survey of about 2,400 households and a longitudinal study involving 40,000 households.

Published: 06 Sep 2019