The current state of child wellbeing in the UK

What’s the current state of child wellbeing in the UK?

  • In its 2018 Report the Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index, based on a survey of 2,194 respondents aged 16 to 25, found that the happiness and confidence young people feel in their emotional health have dropped to the lowest levels since the study was first commissioned in 2009.

  • In its first wellbeing study involving 540,000 15-year-olds across 72 countries, the UK ranked 38th out of the 48 countries that took part in the happiness study. Pupils in the UK were among the most likely to be bullied, and spent the most time on the internet. They were also more anxious about testing than many of their international peers. (OECD, 2017).

  • One in four girls in the UK currently have depression by the time they are 14 (NCB and University of Liverpool, 2017)

  • The UK has the highest rate of child obesity in Western Europe, which is estimated to cost the NHS about £4.2bn a year (Public Health England, 2009). One in three is now clinically obese (Young Minds, 2017).

  • Less than 1 in 10 children regularly play in wild spaces now, compared to 5 out of 10 a generation ago (Natural Childhood Report, 2011).

  • In the UK the “roaming range” (the area within which children are permitted to play unsupervised) has shrunk by more than 90% in 40 years. Only 21% of children today play out in their streets and local neighbourhoods, compared to 71% of adults who were able to do so as children (Playday Poll, 2007). The recent Persil ‘Dirt is Good’ Campaign notes that British children “spend less time outdoors than prisoners”.

  • Play England’s 2007 research found that 51 per cent of children have been told by adults to stop playing in the streets or area near their home. 

  • British children spend disproportionately large amounts of time in front of screens, compared to their counterparts in other Western European countries. ‘Higher levels of TV viewing are having a negative effect on children’s well-being, including lower self-worth, lower self-esteem and lower levels of self-reported happiness.’ (Children’s Society, 2013).

  • By the time the average child is eighteen years old, they will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders (Facts and Figures About Our TV Habit. TV Turnoff Network).

  • One in ten children in the UK has a diagnosed mental health disorder (Young Minds, 2017).

  • One in twelve adolescents deliberately self-harms (Young Minds, 2017).

    28% of children in the UK currently live in poverty (Child Poverty Action Group 2017).

  • Approximately 25% of children live in a one-parent family, and 47% of children living in one-parent families currently experience relative poverty (Gingerbread, 2017).

  • Nearly 80,000 children and young people currently suffer from severe depression, including 8,000 children aged under 10 years old (Young Minds, 2017)

  • Admissions for psychiatric conditions, eating disorders and self-harm among young people are soaring (Sunday Times Mental Health Campaign, 2017.