IN a report released recently by the Children’s Worlds project, the children in Wales have been found to have some of the lowest levels of wellbeing across 35 different countries.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for the Future, Delyth Jewell MS, said “Our children are our future – it should stop us in our tracks to realise that their outlook on the future is so bleak.
The team behind the survey of Welsh children, from the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD), called the findings “significant.” They said that the low levels of psychological well-being found amongst 12-year-olds in Wales is “particularly striking.” Welsh children scored the lowest on questions about whether they liked the way they are, were able to manage their responsibility, and whether they felt positive about the future.
Calling the research a “warning sign” Delyth Jewell MS says that we – as a society – need to “act accordingly.” Ms Jewell notes that the survey was carried out in 2018 and has expressed concerns that the impact of the pandemic “will have almost inevitably made the picture worse,” calling on the Welsh Government to heed this warning, take the finding seriously, and act with urgency.
Ms Jewell has called on the Welsh Government to act in three ways:
- Understand more from young people on what needs to change;
- Better protect the initiatives that support young people in all aspects of their lives;
- Strengthen the role of young people in decision making.
Delyth Jewell MS, Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for the Future, said:
“Children and young people are our nation’s future, just as they are the hope of any nation.
“In recent months and years, young people have forced politicians over the world to take seriously the threat of climate change, and more recently in Wales, young people forced the Welsh Government to U-turn on the A-level results fiasco. We should be finding more ways of empowering our young people and amplifying their voice. But we also need to get to the root of this serious and concerning problem.
“We need to look seriously at the pressures we as a society are putting on young people – from exams, to body image ideals, to the negative aspects of social media. How young people see themselves is funnelled by how society views them – and we need to recognise this research as a warning sign and act accordingly.
“Put simply, we need to talk to young people and find out from them what needs to change. Their voice must be central to addressing this issue and making sure that future generations of young people don’t go through the same debilitating burdens on their well-being. More generally too, we need to strengthen the role of young people in decision-making processes.
“It should stop us in our tracks to realise that our young people’s outlook on the future is so bleak. What should worry us even more is that the experiences of recent months will have almost inevitably made the picture worse – from loneliness and isolation from friends, to being deprived of experiencing key life events. This makes the need for taking these findings seriously all the more urgent.”