Special Report | A Happy Generation

By jmeeuwis 29th September 2021


The Big Ask was carried out by the office of Dame Rachel de Souza, the new Children’s Commissioner for England. Only youngsters in England took part, but it got responses from all 151 local authority areas, including kids who are carers, some who are in care themselves, and thousands who go to special schools.


The results of the survey, called The Big Answer, were released last week. One of the main things it showed is that younger kids are generally happiest. In the 6-8 age group, 94% were happy with their life overall, and 95% were happy with their family life in particular. However, for those aged 9-17, 80% were happy with their family life, falling to 71% for their life overall. Perhaps unsurprisingly, mental health is the biggest cause of worry for kids. In the 9-17 bracket, 57% were happy with their mental health, but 20% were unhappy (the rest were neutral). It was more of a worry for older kids, and girls were nearly twice as likely as boys to be unhappy with their mental health.


After mental health, the second biggest worry for kids is simply not having enough to do. Only 52% of kids are happy with the range of activities near where they live, and 19% are unhappy with the choice – but this varies between 15% for kids in the wealthiest neighbourhoods and 22% for kids in deprived areas.


Dame Rachel says that one thing adults should learn from this report is that the younger generation “is not a ‘snowflake generation.’ It is a heroic generation. A generation of children who are veterans of a global crisis. They have seen how colossally frightening life can be, far too young, and have made a lot of sacrifices. But they have endured, and are emerging stronger”. She adds that kids are “for the most part, happy, optimistic and determined.”



Here are some of the standout stats from The Big Answer, for kids aged 9-17:

  • 71% are happy with their life overall.
  • 20% are unhappy with their mental
  • 89% are happy that their family
    can buy the things they need.
  • 3% said they’re unhappy about it.
  • 56% are happy with life at school,
    compared to 16% who are unhappy.
  • 56.7% didn’t pick a single aspect of
    their life that they were unhappy with.
  • 52% think it’s likely that they’ll have
    a better life than their parents.
  • 9% think it’s unlikely.



Dame Rachel’s report says that kids gave one overarching message (one that takes in everything): “they want a better world”. But kids also said that they felt like they don’t have much say in what goes on, because they can’t vote. Dame Rachel asks that since ”we have such a politically-engaged generation of children, who have described such a clear vision for a better, greener world,” maybe adults should work harder to make sure children’s views are heard. The Commissioner will now put her recommendations to the Government, to try to improve the lives of all kids. Her report ends with a poetic call to help all children realise their ambitions: “Take these prophecies and dreams, these arrows of desire, sent out of sight, and somewhere, make them real.”


This Special Report first appeared in First News, Issue 798, 01/10/21


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *