English children are amongst the unhappiest in the world, researchers have claimed.
Out of 16 countries English children ranked 13th in terms of overall happiness. The only countries with unhappier children were South Korea, Nepal and Ethiopia. The happiest countries surveyed were Romania, Poland and Columbia.
Researchers interviewed 990 eight year-old children in England as part of the International Survey of Children’s Well-Being (ISCWeB) which was founded by UNICEF. The children were asked about their family, home, money and other aspects of their lives. Those in England did not rank higher than eighth in any category of the survey.
A significant number of children in each country claimed they had been bullied at school. Almost half of all children – 48 per cent – said they had been hit by a classmate and 41 per cent said they had been deliberately left out of activities by their peers. Despite its low ranking for overall happiness, South Korea had the highest number of children who claimed they had never experienced bullying.
The English portion of the survey was carried out by the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York. Gwyther Rees, one of the researchers, said the findings were “quite troubling” and that “the picture [was] quite similar to what we found with older age groups” of children. While two thirds of English children said they felt safe at home or among friends, he explained, they were generally “less happy at school where there seems to be an issue around bullying and being left out”.
Last year researchers from Plymouth University claimed that parents often misjudge their children’s happiness. Parents of teenagers tended to underestimate how happy their child was, whereas those with younger children were more likely to overestimate.
Read the full ISCWeB results here.