Girls 'unhappy' with looks, Children's Society report shows

Anxious teenager Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Teenage girls were less likely to feel happy than teenage boys

Thousands of girls in Wales are unhappy with their lives and many struggle with the way they look, a report has said.

The Children's Society's annual review of young people's wellbeing found about 13,000 girls in Wales aged between 10 and 15 - one in seven - were not happy with their lives.

More than a third - about 32,000 - did not feel happy with their looks.

The charity said the figures were "desperately worrying" and young people were "suffering rather than thriving".

The picture across the UK was similar, with about 283,000 girls not happy with their lives and 700,000 unhappy with their looks, the charity said.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children's Society, said: "It is desperately worrying that so many of our young people in Wales are suffering rather than thriving.

"Girls are having a particularly tough time and it's clear that concerted action is needed to tackle this problem."

Emotional bullying

The picture was worse than it was five years ago, with the number of girls unhappy overall up 21% and the number unhappy with their appearance in particular up 8%.

The proportion of boys aged 10 to 15 who said they were unhappy with their lives remained stable at one in nine, while the proportion who said they were unhappy with their appearance was about 20%.

The survey found emotional bullying such as name-calling, which girls were more likely to experience, was twice as common as physical bullying, which was more likely to affect boys.

About half of all children aged 10 to 15 had been bullied at school in the past month, the report found.

Separate research by the Office for National Statistics suggested girls were much more likely to spend extended periods on social media, which had been linked to a higher risk of mental ill-health.

Mr Reed said: "All children deserve a happy childhood and we must never accept that it is somehow inevitable that so many children in Wales should live in distress.

"As a first step all children should be able to access mental health and wellbeing support in school. Children must be heard and helped."

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