Education International
Education International

Wellbeing of girls a concern amid report citing a widening gender gap among children’s life experiences

published 5 September 2016 updated 8 September 2016

Three new reports from the United Kingdom show that the number of girls reporting to be unhappy is increasing at disturbing rates, with much of the rise related to bullying and body issues.

Instead of happily anticipating the new school year, more and more girls are experiencing stress, according to The Good Childhood Report, a study produced by the Children’s Society and the University of York.

Over a five-year span the report shows that the number of girls aged 10 to 15 expressing unhappiness has jumped from 11 to 14 percent over a five year span. The percentage of unhappy boys over the same period has remained at 11 percent.

The latest figures become starker when examined under the microscope. When researchers asked about specific issues, such as looks, up to 34 percent of girls reported being unhappy, compared to 20 percent of boys.

Researchers say that girls are more likely to be targeted by emotional bullying and name calling, which occurs at a rate twice that of physical bullying of boys. The report also suggests that girls are spending more time on social media, where much of the bullying takes place.

A second report, published by the UK’s Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey), shows that children as young as three are experiencing unhappiness due to their body appearance.

Nearly of third of nursery and school staff surveyed stated that they had heard a child refer to themselves as fat, while 10 percent heard a child say that they felt ugly.

The two studies come after the government’s own study on the issue revealed that by the age of 14, one in three teenage girls suffers from “psychological distress.”