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The Good Childhood Report 2018: Summary

This is the seventh edition of The Good Childhood Report, an annual report on children’s well-being produced by The Children’s Society in partnership with the University of York. It is the product of an ongoing research programme which began in 2005 because children’s voices were largely missing from the debate on their well-being. Over the last 13 years, we have carried out qualitative research with children to better understand what contributes to – and what hinders – their well-being. We have also conducted quantitative research with over 65,000 children and young people, which has included generating new evidence on:

  • Trends in child well-being over time
  • Local and national variations within the UK
  • International comparisons
  • Variations in well-being between children with different characteristics and experiences

Due to this work no one understands how children feel about their lives better than we do. And as a consequence of similar research in other countries, there is now widespread agreement that children’s well-being can and should be measured, and that children’s own reports of how their lives are going should be considered the gold standard when measuring well-being. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) now includes measures of children’s subjective experiences, including some that we produce, in its ‘Measuring National Well-being’ initiative. Measuring and monitoring children’s well-being can help us to know where to focus our attention, and to think of actions that might bring improvements to children’s experience of childhood.

This year’s edition of The Good Childhood Report:

  • Reviews the latest figures and time trends in children’s self-reported wellbeing, and the gender differences that are evident for these.
  • Presents new analysis of factors related to family, friends and appearance to try to explain gender differences in children’s well-being.
  • Explores different measures of well-being and mental ill-health to see how these relate to behaviours such as self-harm, truancy and physical activity.