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Churches must 'listen to unhappier teens'

Wed 30 Aug 2017
By Alex Williams

Churches are being urged to listen to young people after new research found teenagers in the UK are more unhappy today than they were ten years ago.

The Children's Society found that more than one million older children now face multiple issues in their lives - such as having a parent who is seriously ill - which are significantly hampering their happiness.

Other challenges highlighted by the Christian charity include neglect, worrying about household finances or being at risk of homelessness.

Spokesman, Richard Crelin told Premier: "Children's wellbeing has declined overall, so our children are more unhappy than they were ten years ago.

"Particularly so for girl; interestingly, there's a bigger gender difference when girls are feeling more unhappy than boys."

The Good Childhood Report found 2.2 million young people in the UK fear crime to the extent that the issue is having a negative impact on their wellbeing.

A 13 year old boy said: "You've got to fight to like kind of survive around this area. You have to stick up for yourself the whole time."

It also concluded that one in three teenage girls fear being followed by a stranger, while a quarter of boys worry about being assaulted.

Mr Crelin continued: "Central government has a role, local government has a role and also communities themselves - police forces, schools and churches - there is a lot we can all do.

"What we need to do first - and that's what the research published today helps us to do - is listen to our young people, hear the problems that they're experiencing and then respond to them."

In their survey of 3,000 children aged between ten and 17, the Children's Society found 53 per cent had experienced at least three hardships in the past five years.

The Children's Society is calling for the government to "urgently address" a funding "shortfall" in children's services they fear could reach £2bn by 2020.

It is also calling for local government, police forces, schools and other local agencies to work together to improve the well-being of children in their area.

The Children's Society has been tracking the wellbeing of young people for a decade and has been able to compare its latest results with figures gathered in previous years.

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