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English Kids Less Happy Than Children In Developing Countries

28/08/2014 12:02 | Updated 20 May 2015

English kids less happy than those in developing nations

English children are less happy than those in developing countries, according to a new survey.

The Children's Society's Good Child Report 2014 found that when it comes to children's happiness and satisfaction, England ranks behind Romania, Algeria, Brazil and South Africa, as well as Spain, Israel, America and Chile.

England came ninth out of 11 countries polled for children's well-being - coming ahead of only South Korea and Uganda.

The report was based on the views of more than 16,000 children from across 11 countries, including 3,000 children from England (but not Scotland and Wales).

Further data referenced in the report suggests that around half a million children in the UK have low levels of wellbeing.

Children's Society chief executive Matthew Reid said:

"Childhood is a happy time for the vast majority in this country. But we can't shut our eyes and ears to the half a million children who say they are unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives.

"This new report lifts the lid on the fact that we're lagging behind so many other countries, including developing nations.

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This research can't be dismissed as being about 'grumpy kids'. Children with low well-being are more likely to experience serious issues, such as poor outcomes related to school, family and their health.

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Almost one in eight children in England said they were unhappy with the way they look. But they feel more positive about their friends, home, money and possessions - with England ranking sixth of the 11 countries for these issues.

The report found that girls are twice as likely as boys to feel unhappy about their appearance, (18 per cent of girls, compared to nine per cent of boys); and the problem increases when children become teenagers, (17 per cent of children aged 12 to 13, compared to nine per cent of 10 to 11 year olds).

The Children's Society found that children who regularly took part in activities and sports, had good relationships with friends and regularly went online in their free time, tended to report higher levels of wellbeing.

"Children are telling us that they're unhappy about their future and how they look, as well as the things that make them happier, like being active, having strong friendships and going online," said Mr Reid.

"It's crucial that all of us – from policy makers to parents and teachers - listen very closely to what they have to say."

The society also found a link between a child's wellbeing and their financial situation.

Around a third of children said their families had been impacted a 'fair amount' or a 'great deal' by the economic crisis, and these children were more likely to report a low level of wellbeing.

When asked whether their family was 'richer, poorer or about the same' compared to their friends, the children who thought they were 'about the same' had the highest wellbeing.

Children who thought they were poorer, were twice as likely to say they were unhappy and three times as likely to report low satisfaction with their life; while children who said their families were richer than their friends were also slightly more likely to have low wellbeing.

The Children's Society has produced a free downloadable guide for parents called How to Support your Child's Well-being, which sets out practical tips and advice to make a difference to children's well-being.

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