Britain has the unhappiest teenagers in Europe: Fear of failure leaves our young people the most dissatisfied, survey shows
- More than a third of 15-year-olds in UK scored low of life satisfaction in a survey
- Children’s Society’s poll shows UK ranks lowest in Europe for ‘sense of purpose’
- Charity says that it believes the findings in the survey are linked to child poverty
- NSPCC says findings reflect the calls taken by hotline Childline in recent years
A fear of failure means UK teenagers are the most dissatisfied in Europe.
More than a third – 36 per cent – of 15-year-olds scored low on life satisfaction in a survey by the Children’s Society.
They also ranked last out of 24 European countries for ‘sense of purpose’ with 43 per cent saying their life lacked clear meaning.
In Romania, only 15 per cent scored low on life satisfaction, the charity said in its annual Good Childhood report.
More than a third – 36 per cent – of 15-year-olds scored low on life satisfaction in a survey by the Children’s Society. Pictured: Library image
It said its findings were linked to rises in child poverty.
Between 2015 and 2018, the UK recorded the largest increase, about 4 per cent, compared with an average fall of 2 per cent in Europe.
The charity reported a disturbing fall in ‘average happiness’ of UK ten to 15-year-olds. Between 2009 and 2017 the number unhappy with their friends nearly doubled from 1.9 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
More than 130,000 said they had no close friends to talk to if they were in trouble.
Children’s Society chief executive Mark Russell said: ‘Modern life has been chipping away at our children’s happiness during the last decade.
‘We must listen to children’s voices and work with them to shape changes in schools, communities and society.’
Policy manager Richard Crellin added: ‘As a society, we put significant amounts of pressure on our children to succeed, especially at school, and this has consequences for well-being.
‘Good exam results are seen as the key to future success and often prosperity, so children feel incredibly anxious about what will happen if they don’t do well.
Policy manager Richard Crellin added: ‘As a society, we put significant amounts of pressure on our children to succeed, especially at school, and this has consequences for well-being. Pictured: Library image of students at school
‘Our previous research has found this fear of failure is much worse amongst children living in poverty.
‘For them, the stakes are even higher and they may feel that failure could irrevocably damage their future prospects.
‘It is therefore vital that we rethink what it means to fail and to succeed. An educational culture which tells children they only have ‘one shot’ at success in school places unnecessary pressure on young people.
‘Learning should be a lifelong endeavour and not something that feeds fear and distress.’
The NSPCC said: ‘The findings echo what we have been hearing from young people for years through Childline.
‘These concerns have been heightened by the pandemic.’
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