Chapter summary: Childhood

Growing up in Britain

International reports suggest the UK has not been as successful as other developed nations in promoting children’s well-being. The media and some politicians appear to endorse a gloomy view of modern childhood; does the public share their pessimism?

While a majority think Britain is a good country to grow up in, only a minority think children are happier now than they were a decade ago. Contrary to popular belief, the views of older people are not always the most negative.

  • Seven out of ten (70%) agree that Britain is a good country to grow up in, compared with one in ten (10%) who disagree. But only 12% think that children are happier than ten years ago; 54% disagree.
  • People aged 65 and over are more likely than 18–34 year olds to think Britain is a good place to grow up in (81% and 60% respectively agree). But older people are also more likely than younger adults to think that children are less happy now than a decade ago (60% and 44%).

A majority of adults think most young people are well-behaved. A majority, nevertheless, think that standards of behaviour were better in the past.

  • Six out of ten (61%) think most young people are responsible and well-behaved; only one in five (21%) disagree. Older people are more likely to agree (69%) than young adults (45%).
  • However, six out of ten (63%) disagree with the idea that young people’s behaviour is “no worse than in the past”, compared with 28% who agree.

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