Monday 28 March 2022
Young girl in a red jumper being carried by her mother looking back at the camera

Landmark study finds that most parents and grandparents across the UK think childhoods are getting worse – and a third of children agree

Children should be able to have safe and happy childhoods to help their stars shine. But do today’s children have better childhoods compared to their parents?

We polled over 5,500 children, parents and grandparents across the UK to explore their views on childhood today .

What we found

Many families believe that childhoods are getting worse and that children do not have a brighter future than previous generations.

What explains this? Shouldn’t childhoods be getting better?

Two years on from the first national lockdown, mental health is now a much bigger worry for children. In 2019, less than a third (29%) of children saw their own mental health as an issue in 2019. This has grown to 42% in 2022.

Parents and grandparents are also far more aware of their child or grandchild’s mental health worries.

Three in ten children said they worry about their family having enough money to live comfortably. The figure rises to 47% for children from low-income backgrounds.

Childhood is worse now today than it was for me or my mum…. Money is more of an issue now than it was back then, the price of housing, the cost of living, the wages where we live are so low.

Suzanna, mother to 13-year-old Marissa who was supported by an Action for Children Young Carers service

Our findings suggest children, parents and grandparents are dissatisfied with the availability of services and support for young people. This could reflect significant recent funding cuts to children’s services, including visible community services like children’s centres.

Clearly more needs to be done. Every generation of children should have a better childhood and a brighter future than the last.

What we're calling for

We believe the government should:

  1. Support families, and give every child the best start in life, by investing in family hubs.
  2. Provide children and young people the right support at the right time by strengthening early help services.
  3. Give every child the chance to have a brighter future by taking immediate action to reduce child poverty.
Read the full report

You can also read the report for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.