Northamptonshire children give below average score for life satisfaction

Picture: Press AssociationPicture: Press Association
Picture: Press Association
Children in Northamptonshire are less satisfied with their lives than the average child across England, according to a new survey.

The Children's Society says it is "heartbreaking" to see so many children across the country feeling dissatisfied with their lives.

The questionnaire asked 11-16-year-olds to give a score on how satisfied they felt with their life, with one being the lowest and 10 the highest.

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In Northamptonshire, the average score was 6.3 in 2018-19 – slightly below the average across England, of 6.5.

The average score across the East Midlands was 6.5, but more than one in five (21.7%) respondents gave scores of less than five – representing an estimated 62,000 children in total.

The findings, from the Sport England Active Lives Children and Young People Survey, pre-date the coronavirus pandemic and were analysed by The Children’s Society as part of its annual Good Childhood research.

The report highlighted a fall in the wellbeing of young people between 2009 and 2018 and the charity fears the pandemic will exacerbate this.

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It wants the Government to introduce regular national measurement of children’s wellbeing, already in place for adults, and for councils to carry out regular assessments.

Chief executive Mark Russell said: “It’s heartbreaking to learn that even before Covid so many children in the East Midlands felt dissatisfied with their lives, that they lacked purpose and were feeling unhappy at the time of this survey.

“This situation is not acceptable or inevitable, but as a society we need a better understanding of how children are feeling and what is causing this in order to decide how best to send this worrying trend into reverse.

“While it will take time before we start to see improvements, with concerted efforts from everyone we can start to help children feel happier about their lives and give them real hope for the future.”

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When asked how happy they felt the day before the survey, children in Northamptonshire gave an average score of 6.3, compared to 6.4 across the country.

Nationally, school and their personal appearance were the aspects of life that most children said they were unhappy with.

And when asked how worthwhile their lives were, young people in Northamptonshire had a score of 6.6, the same score as across England.

The Children’s Society says local strategies could include the introduction of drop-in emotional health hubs, which offer support without the need for an appointment, as well as investment in youth services and early help for struggling families.

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The Department for Education said its recent State of the Nation report found children's levels of happiness have remained relatively stable during the pandemic.

A spokesman added: “But we know that some pupils will be feeling additional pressures and anxieties at this time.

"Our £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return programme is helping education staff respond to those pressures by providing training and support to local schools and colleges via councils, the vast majority of whom – 97% of councils – have taken up the offer."

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