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The Good Childhood Report 2015

For too many years, our society lived with a view that children should be seen and not heard. Without listening to children and understanding children’s own views about their quality of life – how can we ever expect to improve the lives of children and young people?Thankfully, we are beginning to see a shift in these attitudes. Over the 10 years that we have been exploring children’s subjective well-being, we have seen greater acceptance of the importance of this topic – as seen in the fact that there is now a national measure of children’s subjective well-being.

Though it is easy to slip into a shorthand of happiness, well-being is about so much more than this. It is about how young people feel about their lives as a whole, how they feel about their relationships, the amount of choice that they have in their lives, and their future. Wellbeing matters as an end in itself, but also because it is correlated with other outcomes in life such as physical and mental health. Around 10% of children in this country are experiencing low levels of well-being and they need our support.

After 10 years of research into well-being, we have learnt much, but still have more to discover. For example, why is it that we have a gender gap in particular aspects of well-being when other countries don’t seem to? How can an understanding of well-being help us to support positive mental health among young people? What are the interventions at different points of childhood and adolescence that will make the most impact?

We are extremely proud of the research that we have developed with the University of York on well-being. It is a painful fact that many children and young people in the UK today are still suffering hardship, and too often their problems are ignored. We believe that it is listening to children and understanding their experiences that can give us the best chance of supporting every child to have the greatest possible chance in life.